Do You Remember Your Family’s First Microwave?

Was it a Tappan microwave?

A recent article in the in the Mansfield News Journal, Mansfield, Microwaves Linked in History tells the story of the Tappan Stove Company, the first company to manufacture microwaves for household use. The newspaper contacted OHS to ask if we had any archival material or photographs of the company and their early microwaves. They were also curious to know if we might have one these Ohio made microwaves in our collections.

We do have some material in the Archives/Library, like this catalog from 1935. The museum collection has a traditional gas range made by Tappan, but we do not have one of their early microwaves. Microwave ovens for home cooking were a revolutionary product that changed domestic life forever. OHS would really like to have one of these early, Ohio made models. If you have or know of a source for acquiring a Tappan microwave oven, please feel free to contact the history collections staff.

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6 Responses to Do You Remember Your Family’s First Microwave?

  1. generika potenzmittel says:

    This is a great story. Thanks!

  2. In 1985-7, I lived in a rented house in Culver City, California with my parents. The main built-in oven (which was the lower part of a range with 4 electric burners on top) doubled as both a conventional oven and what its manual called an “Electronic oven.” It may or may not have been a Tappan. The manual appeared to have been printed in the 1950s, and claimed that the oven used UHF to cook the food. (The term “microwave” might not have caught on in popular parlance yet.)

    I do remember that the “Electronic” cooking mode of this oven was not powerful enough to pop popcorn with any consistency, and that later there may have been a leak that developed in the seal around the oven (one of the neon indicator lights looked like it was “cooking” the last time I used it).

    I have no idea if this house still has that old oven. The owners may have remodelled the kitchen since then. (I blame those home makeover TV shows.)

  3. Jane Olson says:

    I have (and am still using!) a Tappan microwave manufactured in March 1978. I’ve taken much good-natured ribbing from friends and family because of this wood grain, brown and harvest gold appriance. It is model 01069, Serial # 38100118 and is still going strong, lo these 33 years later! I’m not sure this qualifies as an “antique”, but it has to be close!!

  4. Chuck Smith says:

    Yes, I do remember my family’s first microwave, and it was a Tappan. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it has gone to the dump many years ago.
    I grew up in Los Angeles, and we had a microwave from the time I was born in the mid 1960s. It was a Tappan model that had one large electric oven on the bottom with four electric burners in the middle and a microwave on top. The microwave system was oil-cooled, and there was a pump that circulated oil to a radiator below the lower oven. The microwave also had a browning unit (electric coil) that could be used to make things crispy. Interestingly, the door to the microwave didn’t have any glass in it and steam would often escape through the door. I remember having to turn it on, open the door and put in the food, set the timer, and then wait for the system to “click” indicating it was ready to cook before closing the door to begin the cooking process.
    We lived three bloocks from the local middle school, and my mother says that she used to host field trips from the cooking classes to demonstrate microwave cooking – all before they really became counter-top appliances.
    The tastiest treat was a microwave golden-rush brownie made from the recipie in the Tappan cookbook that we had.

  5. Steve Caylor says:

    The first microwave oven we had was a Litton back in the early 70’s. IIRC, it was one of the first microwave ovens with variable power. We cooked almost everything in it including roasts (turkeys were a no go). When I grew up and moved out, I took the oven with me. It lasted 33 years.

  6. Don Peterson says:

    Yes, I remember my first microwave. I worked at Amana one year after they marketed the first DOMESTIC microwave. I started on December 30, 1968. After 12+ years as Sr Dev. Engr, I started at Tappan on 1 August 1980.. My project was to develop their new line which went to home testing in 1983. My two microwaves have yet to fail, in any way. Tappan was first with a microwave in 1954 but it was for restaurants, etc., not for the home. In mid-60’s Raytheon Percy Spencer had the patent) and Litton also made commercial microwaves. When Raytheon bought Amana in 1965, George Foerstner, Amana Pres., thought the home would be a good market for a microwave oven and it took off from there.
    You want stories? There are a great many of them, Ul Committees, IEC committees and lawsuits and claims and on.
    Don Peterson.

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