"Armchair sociologists like to ponder the distance between military and civilian life. In the tech world, at least, they're not so far apart. Innovations that began with the U.S.' well-funded defense establishment almost always filter down into commercial, mundane usage. Sometimes in unexpected ways. Here are some of our favorite examples:
Microwave Oven. The origins of the microwave are even freakier than this '60s-era mockup of a hanging heat lamp that fried your bacon. Percy Spencer, an engineer with the defense giant Raytheon, thought he was building magnetron for radar sets. Suddenly he discovered his pants were a sticky mess. A Mr. Goodbar he kept in his pocket had melted from the heat emitted from his active radar set. From that embarrassing accident came a multimillion dollar industry — and one of the great twin blessings and curses of the American kitchen."