In a world of in which kitchen gadgets of all kinds are celebrated, the original high-tech kitchen appliance, the microwave, continues to take abuse.
Our colleagues at Quartz tried to prove the microwave was dying last week, and they did a pretty good job of it. Sales are down since their peak of 12 million units in 2004, and not microwaving things is a class distinction on par with not watching broadcast television shows.
Our times are marked by the love of both technology and the old way of doing things. So, of course people hate the microwave. It's not so old to be timeless but not so new as to be exciting. The microwave is just an old technology, which reminds us that the gadget we love today will be tomorrow's lame, dated artifact.
A film made to promote microwaves explicitly connected the now-lowly gadget with landing on the moon. "Microwave cooking especially is part of the technological fallout, particularly in the field of radar, from the past two decades of research and development, which has culminated in 1969's landing on the moon," a narrator intones, as images of large radar arrays show on screen. "Developed as the basic power unit for all these radar tracking stations is an electron tube, the magnetron, and it was discovered that this magnetron could be used as the primary power unit in microwave ovens."
Doesn't this gadget, developed out of the space race and once so sophisticated it was known as the electronic oven, deserve better?