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A Brief History of the Microwave Oven

Where the “radar” in Raytheon’s Radarange came from

4 min read
A photo of a woman standing behind an early version of a microwave oven.
Bettmann/Getty Images

As World War II came to an end, so did the market for the magnetron tubes that had been used to generate microwaves for short-range military radar. Magnetron makers like Raytheon eagerly sought new applications for the technology.

It was well known that radio waves would heat dielectric materials, and the use of dielectric heating in industrial and medical contexts was fairly common. The idea of heating food with radio waves wasn’t new either: Bell Labs, General Electric, and RCA had all been working on variations of the technology for some time. Indeed, at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, Westinghouse demonstrated a 10-kilowatt shortwave radio transmitter that cooked steaks and potatoes between two metal plates. But nothing came of these culinary adventures.

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How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor

Hoff thought designing 12 custom chips for a calculator was crazy, so he created the Intel 4004

14 min read
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How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor
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The rays of the rising sun have barely reached the foothills of Silicon Valley, but Marcian E. (Ted) Hoff Jr. is already up to his elbows in electronic parts, digging through stacks of dusty circuit boards. This is the monthly flea market at Foothill College, and he rarely misses it.

Ted Hoff is part of electronics industry legend. While a research manager at Intel Corp., then based in Mountain View, he realized that silicon technology had advanced to the point that, with careful engineering, a complete central processor could fit on a chip. Teaming up with Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin, he created the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004.

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