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Electromagnetic waves have the ability to travel through vacuums such as in outer space, a feature that is not evident in other types of waves. Electromagnetic waves are sourced from vibrating electrical charges (King, Owens & Wu, 2012). Such vibrations form waves that incorporate a magnetic and electric component. Electromagnetic waves have the capabilities to transport its own energy via a vacuum at light speed in other media; the speed through which such energy is propagated falls below that of the speed of light. This paper seeks to look at the developmental stages of electromagnetic waves since their first discovery and specifically, look into the development of the EM known as micro waves and the development of the microwave oven at the Raytheon Company.
Origin of Electromagnetic Waves
Faraday was the first scientist to propose that in space where magnetic fields are observable, some changes are witnessed. He showed that magnetic fields varied in time in the same manner with which could result in the propagation of electrical currents. Years later, James Clark Maxwell actually developed a scientific concept aimed at explaining electromagnetic waves (EMs) in 1861 (King, Owens & Wu, 2012). It related well with Faraday’s earlier observations. Maxwell provided that magnetic and electrical waves couple together to form Ems and as such the two cannot propagate independent of each other. Maxwell found out that any alterations to the magnetic fiend induce a transformation of similar magnitude to the electric field and the opposite also hold true.
Later on, Heinrich Hertz practically proved that electric current bouncing to and from a wire, referred as the antenna today, as a source of EMs (King, Owens & Wu, 2012). This was in 1886. In 1903, Marconi, an Italian scientist was able to transmit EMs, more specifically, radio waves over vast distances as from Europe to Massachusetts. Gradually, pioneering work by other scientists led to the discovery of other forms of EMs. It was, however, not until after the discovery of the x-rays via a vacuum tube was it discovered that some waveforms could have wavelengths that were more extended compared to those witnessed in light waves. During the Second World War, the magnetron was discovered and son after the accidental discovery of the micro wave. Microwaves later on led to the technical development and advances that brought the microwave oven into existence.
Microwaves are a form of EM radiation or energy and are used for a number of useful applications in the world today. The most common use of this form of EM wave is cooking. However, micro waves are widely used in medical treatment, communication, radar systems and in stationary traffic speed cameras (King, Owens & Wu, 2012). Micro waves are in essence radio waves with a particularly high frequency. The frequencies in discussion range from approximately three gigahertz to 30 terahertz while wavelengths for this EM radiation range from three millimeters to approximately 30 centimeters (Müller, 2013); (King, Owens & Wu, 2012). It is critical to understand that the values stated herein are not definitive. The EM spectrum range for micro waves can be further subsided in to the L,S,C,X as well as K bands.
Microwave ovens did not come into existence due to one inventor’s dedication towards improving cooking processes (Damez&Clerjon, 2013). As such, like many other scientific inventions, the development of the microwave oven was simply an outcome of a lab accident. As the Second World War was being fought, two scientists of British ancestry invented the magnetron. The magnetron was a tube designed purposely to generate microwaves. It was part of the Royal Army’s efforts to improve its radar system to quickly detect Allied warplanes within British territories (Damez&Clerjon, 2013). It was not until a couple of years later when a Raytheon Company employee, Percy LeBaron Spencer accidentally found out that microwave radiation could cook food. This was after microwave radiation generated by a magnetron caused a chocolate bar in his pocket to melt. Subsequent experiments proved that microwave radiation could be technologically tapped into to heat foods at a faster rate as compared to conventional cooking methods. As such, the Raytheon Company went on to manufacture the Radar Range, the earliest version of the contemporary microwave which, back then, was as heavy and large as today’s refrigerator.
Raytheon Company’s and the Bessant and Tidd Theory
The theory from Bessant and Tidd was utilized well by the Raytheon Company soon after Spencer’s discovery that microwaves could be used to positively impact on human development (Bessant & Tidd, 2007). As such, the company related the discovery of microwaves’ food heating capabilities with entrepreneurial goals and context as it realized and fully recognized the business opportunity therein. The company had the available resources and could therefore create value by appealing to the specific needs of clients. Firstly, the company sought to appeal to the commercial hospitality industry. This industry could afford expensive and bulky products also served as a source provided capital resources for further product (microwave oven) development (Bessant & Tidd, 2007). This entire process as such, involves a cyclic learning process as the company got to understand what the consumers desired from the new product as well as through further research and development within its internal environment. The Raytheon Company thus offered a creative climate which fully exploited an organic market by positively integrating key individuals, a high degree of involvement towards innovation, effective and efficient work teams, boundary spanning and looking ahead of the steady stage.
In line with the theory postulated by Bessant and Tidd concerning managing innovation, the Raytheon Company at the time created fertile internal environment for creativity (Bessant & Tidd, 2007) ;(Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). More so, the company sought to purposely manage its staff to share a common vision through appropriate leadership that nurtures innovative outcomes. Given that innovation is basically founded on learning as well as embracing change, its discovery through Spencer’s scientific exploits enabled it to produce a product that was indeed risky, disruptive and expensive to manufacture.
The initial microwave oven or in this case, Radar Range was first marketed in 1954. Its power consumption was high, too bulky a product and quite expensive that it could only be suitable for use in institutional and commercial purposes (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). The top management at the Raytheon Company, however, positively embraced that Percy was a key individual towards the introduction of a product that could innovatively transform the way society cooked and by extension disrupt this market considerably. Through a strong external focus concerning the radar range, effective product development teams, high tendency towards greater innovation and appropriate organizational structure worked well for the company (Baregheh, Hemsworth & Rowley, 2014). As such, it committed itself to the long term objectives concerning the new product rather than focus on short term benefits.
It was not until 1967 when the company through one of its division known as Amana employed technological developments to innovatively design a radar range appropriate for domestic use (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). The Radar range microwave oven thus marked the onset of domestic application for microwave ovens. The fact that the new technology was quite costly at first resulted in lower than forecasted sales figure but the company had successfully brought into fruition a concept that significantly disrupted the way kitchens operated (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). Continued improvements and technological refinements soon resulted in the introduction of a new array of microwave ovens that were lightweight and more reliable. As such, the resultant product of the innovative developments undertaken by the Amana division resulted in the development of a novel air cooled magnetron based microwave oven that in essence eliminated the services of a plumber.
This led to a situation where the consumer market embraced the new product especially for particular industrial applications (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). For instance, the hospitality industry could now endeavor to keep food products under refrigeration up to the time an order was placed and the food product simply heated up. Further technological developments on this product ensured that by the 1970’s, the sales figures of microwaves units sold within the US surpassed those of gas ranges sold per annum (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). As such, the benefits of having such a product in home kitchens outweighed unfounded fears as to the possibilities of radiation poisoning, sterility, blindness or impotence.
The myths and fears faded to result in an outcome where the microwave oven was the most commonly owned appliance in American kitchens. As such, it is estimated that in 1976, more than 52 million American homes owned a microwave oven (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). Cooking was positively impacted on by Spencer’s scientific discovery that came to enable domestic as well as commercial kitchens to save on energy and time via using microwave ovens. The product thus ceased from being perceived as a luxury good to a purposeful necessity in a fast paced society.
It is presently a global phenomenon and as such, microwave ovens are now produced to suite individual preferences with regard to shape, size, color and functionality. More so, they are now readily available and conveniently serviceable at prices affordable to the common man (Baregheh, Hemsworth& Rowley, 2014). They also incorporate such features as sensor and probe cooking as well as convection heating. This implies that they now meet virtually all cooking requirements concerning cooking, drying and heating foods.
The magnitude of technological developments in the 20th Century is in essence mindboggling. As such, these technological advances have presently introduced such capabilities as allowing for conventional grilling to be done via microwaves. More so, innovations in the manner with which is dissipated within the cooking chambers have allowed for greater and better distribution of microwave energy. Concave reflectors are also employed to focus such energy on foods under preparation (Andriani& Cohen, 2013). It is envisaged that smart microwave ovens will be available in the future. Such products will include microprocessors which will control all of its electronic components. Furthermore, attached scanners and bar code readers will be incorporated to transfer product information to the microwave oven and enable it to apply the best parameters towards presenting the perfect meal. The front door is also expected to incorporate a touch screen and more support voice recognition technologies (Andriani& Cohen, 2013). The microwave will be a product that also allows for web browsing, access to TV services, email support functions all through the microwave door as an interactive touch screen.
The Raytheon Company can thus be considered as one of the most successful companies prior to and even after the end of the Second World War. It innovatively used the significant developments that had been discovered concerning EM waves and more specifically, microwaves to offer the military and later on the consumer industry with innovative products. As postulated by Bessant and Tidd, the company used all of its available resources to effectively manage innovation. This paper has thus presented how a company can allow for a creative environment and to create value to a wide consumer market with great effect.
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