When the microwave and hole in the wall were king

Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

owards the end of the last century – and those of a certain vintage still think that refers to the late 1800’s but it doesn’t – RTE Radio commissioned a short series, asking people to wax lyrical on the inventions that had the most profound impact on their lives.

Each week for about twelve weeks, a different person picked two things – and the idea was that they talked about something we now had that before this we could never have imagined, and now we couldn’t imagine living without.

For reasons only known to the series producer at the time, Yetti Redmond, I was among those surveyed – and I could think of no two items that changed the world more than the microwave and the ATM.

In my defence, this was a world before the mobile phone, the GPS, the hand-held computer, wi-fi, Google, Facebook, Amazon, the eReader and almost everything we take for granted today.

We had television of course but few – outside of very rich people and pubs – had Sky Sports, and pay on demand only referred to a bill from the taxman.

We had radio obviously – not least because this was for radio – but even local radio was in its infancy, and because the internet only came into being at the tail end of the eighties, ordinary people saw it in the sort of way people today view a potential Mission to Mars.

So back then, there were few things more fancy than the microwave and what we used to call the drinklink; one cooking your dinner in jig time and the other dispensing your cash from a hole in the wall.

A man called Percy Spencer is generally credited with inventing the modern microwave oven as long ago as immediately after World War II from radar technology developed during the war.  But it wasn’t until the late sixties that the countertop microwave oven was first introduced by the Amana Corporation in the US, and their use began to spread around the world.

To read Dave’s column in full, please see this week’s Connacht Tribune.