When did microwaves become popular?
Residential microwaves climbed in popularity throughout the 1970s and, by 1986, roughly one in four American homes owned a microwave oven. By 1997, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nine of every ten American homes had a microwave.
Though invented in 1946, early microwave ovens were costly to manufacture, incredibly large and only sold to commercial establishments. The first microwave ovens landed in restaurants, ship galleys and canteens in 1946 weighing over 750 pounds, standing almost six feet tall and costing nearly $5,000. The first residential countertop microwaves—like these models from Whirlpool brand—started selling in 1967 for just under $500. Then, in the 1970s, cheaper parts and technological advancements brought prices down and triggered a surge in microwave purchases across the country.