It might come as a surprise to many people today, but it's a fact that a melted candy bar helped to create microwave ovens. These ovens are an example of how our efforts to discover or improve something can many times lead to a coincidental invention or improvement of something else. This effort to improve something in World War II actually lead to the eventual creation of a microwave oven.

What happened was that British and American scientists during the war were working feverishly to improve upon radar, which had been developed by the British just before the start of hostilities. Efforts aimed at improving the sensitivity and range of radar led to the development of a piece of equipment known as the magnetron, which emitted microwaves. These microwaves improved radar's effectiveness greatly.

For several years thereafter, beginning around 1942, scientists and engineers worked hard on improving the magnetron itself. One day, one of those scientists -- who was standing near a magnetron when it was turned on -- noticed that the candy bar he had been carrying around in his front shirt pocket began to heat up and melt when the magnetron beam was focused on him.

Deciding to experiment further, this scientist (by the name of Percy Spencer) placed a handful of corn kernels in front of the beam and stepped back to see what would happen. Of course, what happened was popcorn, naturally enough. Not content with that experiment, Spencer and a fellow scientist took an egg and placed it in the beam's path. It soon enough exploded, all over the other scientist's face.

Word of this surprising use for a magnetron soon reached company leaders, who decided to set a team of researchers on to finding a way to take the magnetron and create an oven out of it. By 1947, this defense contractor's team of scientists was able to produce an oven that cost about $5000, was 6 feet tall and weighed nearly a ton. It also required constant cooling via means of a water system.

Eventually, the technology was licensed to the Tappan Stove Company, which took it and began to work towards slimming down the model. By 1954, it was able to make a microwave oven that it could market for commercial purposes and which it dubbed the 'Radarange.' People recognize that name even today, by the way. Originally costing $3000, a smaller, less expensive model for $1300 was produced in 1955.

1967, however, was the first year in which the microwave oven really began to take off. A few years prior to that, Tappan had been acquired by Amana, which took the design, improve it and put its own version of the Radarange on the market. Originally costing $500, it was much more compact and light in weight. It was an immediate success, and by 1978, the oven was in many a home and selling for much lower prices.

These ovens are so ubiquitous today, it would be very surprising indeed if one were to walk into a home and not be able to spot some sort of microwave oven in the kitchen or elsewhere. Many people, however, don't know that it was a melted candy bar that led to the eventual creation and development of this oven. It truly was born as the result of a pure accident.

Author's Bio: 

Annie is an expert furniture and interior design writer. Her current area of specialism is chair, mattresses and outdoor furniture