Technology is in virtually every facet of our lives, yet many of the everyday conveniences we enjoy now have been around for less than 100 years.
In the kitchen, for instance, the various appliances, fixtures and gadgets that converted the once single-function space into the home's hub of activity have changed dramatically since their introduction in the early 1900s. A look back through history shows how some of these items originated and evolved over the years.
A tool of convenience, the microwave oven helps you cook food faster. Born of the same technology used by radar systems in World War II, the microwave oven was introduced by Raytheon engineer Percy LeBaron Spencer in 1947. Dubbed the Radarange oven, the first rendition of the appliance was too large and expensive for residential home use.
The first countertop microwave, which was suitable for residential use, wasn't introduced until more than 20 years later in 1967. Today, microwave ovens are sleek appliances, often built into cabinetry and complete with touch pad controls and a wide range of settings. With advancements in technology, they can bake, grill and roast food that is just as delicious as if it was prepared in a conventional oven.
The refrigerator is an important appliance because it safely and efficiently stores your food, helping keep it fresh and safe to eat. This makes it possible for you to shop ahead of time and save leftover food. How did people get by before the refrigerator was invented? People used what was called an icebox, a compact non-mechanical refrigerator, which used a block of ice to keep food cool. The design had its limitations and became a health issue as safe sources of natural ice became harder to find.
The refrigerator was an essential appliance in the residential kitchen by the 1920s, and more than 90 percent of urban homes had a refrigerator by 1950, according to History Magazine. The modern day refrigerator features a number of innovations that make it more than just a place to store food. For example, a dual cooling system allows the fridge and freezer to circulate cool air separately; ensuring odors from the fridge don't affect the pureness of ice. Soon, household refrigerators will communicate with homeowners virtually to alert them when items are about to spoil and help populate grocery shopping lists.
Even the kitchen faucet has evolved significantly through thoughtful innovation. The founder of Masco Corporation, entrepreneur Alex Manoogian, developed the first successful washerless ball valve faucet in 1954. He named it after the shape of the internal cam, which resembled the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet: delta. It was the first single-handle kitchen faucet design and the beginning of Delta Faucet Company. Since then, the company has continued to shape the plumbing products category.
"We consider ourselves America's faucet innovation leader because we've made our name with a solid history of technological innovations," says Bob Rodenbeck, director of research and development at Delta Faucet Company. "From the very beginning, we've sought to produce innovative solutions to provide people with a better way to experience water."
In 2009, Delta Faucet introduced its innovative Touch2O Technology, which enables the user to activate the flow of water with a simple touch anywhere on the spout or handle. The technology makes it easier to turn on the water flow when hands are messy or turn off the water when it is not needed between tasks, helping to reduce water flow.
Whether you're cooking you're a meal, storing your produce, or washing the dishes, all of the gadgets in your kitchen have evolved over time to improve your everyday life.