When was the microwave invented? The accidental creation of this household appliance.

Over 90% of households in the U.S. owned a microwave as early as 1997, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And it's not just the United States. The appliance is a go-to for a quick bite to eat for many around the globe. According to the Microwave Technology Association, over 30 million microwaves are sold around the world each year.

Many inventions are the result of a race to create a product with a certain function, but did you know the microwave was invented entirely by accident?

Just curious? We're here to answer your everyday questions

When was the microwave invented?

The microwave was invented in 1945 by Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer, as evidenced by his patent for a "Method of treating foodstuffs."

But Spencer was not seeking food-related inventions. As an employee of defense technology company Raytheon, Spencer only made the connection to food when a radar magnetron accidentally melted a nut cluster he kept in his pocket to feed squirrels, according to The Sun.

According to Popular Mechanics, Spencer and his team then tested the machine using an egg, which exploded, and popcorn kernels, which popped, before applying for a patent for the device.

More groundbreaking inventions: When was the camera invented? Frenchman credited with invention of camera in 1816.

Use more than just your microwave: 15 cookbooks for college students that make easy dorm-room dinners

When was the microwave first used in homes?

In 1947, Raytheon released the "Radarange," the first commercially available microwave oven. According to Raytheon, they cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and were stored in refrigerator-sized cabinets.

How do microwaves work?

According to the FDA, these appliances heat food using microwave radiation, a form of electromagnetic wave which can be produced by a magnetron.

Encyclopedia Britannica notes that these waves can only heat particles located near the outside of a food item. The centers of your microwaveable products only heat up via conductive transfer of heat.

Are microwaves safe?

According to WebMD, microwave radiation is non-ionizing radiation, which means the appliance will not cause cancer or other worrisome medical conditions.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: When was the microwave invented? How it was created and how it works.


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