The technology of war is constantly evolving, as old systems are revamped, and new ideas and concepts are created. With two World Wars occurring during the last hundred years it has been a period of continuous military advancement leading to the creation of nuclear weapons and the rise of cyber warfare.
Some of the technology developed for and by military groups over the last hundred years has also found a use in civilian life. In some cases, people are well aware of their origins. In others, the source of these common features of modern life may be surprising.
Here are five technologies developed in wartime that are now used for daily living.
A mainstay of most modern kitchens, the microwave oven has its roots in WWII. Percy Spencer, an American engineer and inventor, was working on a radio set that produced intense electromagnetic radiation. While he tested the radio, a bar of chocolate in his pocket melted in the first – albeit unintentional – use of microwave cooking.
In 1947 the first microwave ovens went on sale, although due to their extremely high prices and impractical size, they did not catch on. Two decades later, however, a more streamlined and affordable model was developed, and the microwave oven as we know it today found its place in the kitchen.
Today these glasses are staples of modern fashion. However, when the company Bausch & Lomb first created them in 1936, their purpose was purely functional.
Originally referred to as “pilot’s glasses,” they were exactly that – equipment specifically developed to shield the eyes of pilots in flight. Those early models blocked 80% of the light and were designed for fighter pilots, enabling them to spot enemy planes even when the sun was in their eyes.
They replaced the heavier and more inconvenient goggles used for the same purpose, and after the war became popular as a fashion accessory. When General Douglas MacArthur strode ashore in the Philippines wearing a set of aviators, photographers captured the dramatic moment for newspapers back in America, immortalizing these glasses in history.