Common Household Appliance is the Greatest Invention in Maine History
Many kitchens throughout the United States feature some of the conveniences available in the world, from oversized refrigerators and freezers, to dishwashers, and stoves with multiple burners and self-cleaning ovens.
Most kitchens also feature a microwave. The microwave is a modern appliance we simply take for granted, but it wouldn't have come to be with the brilliance and creativity of a man from Maine.
From a Rough Upbringing to a Brilliant Mind
Percy Spencer was born in the small town of Howland, Maine, in 1894. Before his second birthday, Percy's father tragically passed away. Percy's mother left him in the care of his aunt and uncle, fearing she wouldn't have the means to care for the boy.
Unfortunately, less than seven years later, Percy's uncle also passed away. Percy was forced to leave grammar school and begin working in a local mill to ensure he and his aunt had a roof over their head and food on the table.
But it was in that mill where Percy Spencer's mind began to be molded. The paper mill was one of the first to use electricity, and Percy wanted to know everything about how it worked.
The Military and a Big Career
When Percy Spencer turned 18, he decided to join the United States Navy. During his time in the military, the Navy recognized that Percy had a brilliant mind. During his free time, he taught himself everything about calculus, wireless communication, physics, communication, and metallurgy.
That wealth of knowledge landed Percy a job with Raytheon. Percy would help Raytheon develop advanced radar equipment for the military during World War II. For his work, he was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award by the Navy.
A Melted Candy Bar and an Idea That Changed the World
As the story goes, Percy Spencer had a candy bar in his pocket one afternoon while standing in front of an active radar set. He happened to notice that the candy bar melted while he was experimenting with magnetrons and their waves.
After several more experiments cooking food, Raytheon filed a patent for the first microwave cooking oven. That first oven weighed over 750 pounds and cost the equivalent of $65,000 in modern-day money.
As the years passed, the size, efficiency, and affordability of the microwave over was adjusted. Today, it's one of the most useful items in any kitchen, all thanks to the brilliant mind of a kid from a small town in Maine.
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