Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990: Decades of Discord

By Myron A. Marty | Go to book overview
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15
Technology's Small Steps and Giant Leaps

In 1974 the Amana Refrigeration Company began to market small microwave ovens for home use. However, probably because meals cooked in them seemed less attractive and less tasty than those prepared in regular ovens, microwaves did not catch on for general use. Rather, they became "heat-things-up" devices, increasingly useful for families that found it impossible to gather around the dinner table at the same time. Also, as baby boomers headed off to their own apartments and as childless families became more numerous, microwaves proved useful for heating prepackaged dinners and leftovers. Another small but important technological device that was installed unobtrusively. in many homes deserves mention: smoke detectors became household necessities after their introduction in 1970.

Technology in Homes

In 1970, although one family in five had no automobile, Americans' reliance on automobiles showed no signs of diminishing. Nor did the automobile industry escape numerous technological problems. One had to do with air pollution caused by automobile emissions. The California legislature, responding to complaints about the smog that was suffocating cities, became the pacesetter in setting emission control standards. It imposed limits on the amount of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons permitted from automobile exhausts. The federal laws that followed permitted California to enforce stricter ones, as atmospheric conditions there differed from other parts of the country. Had mass transit--buses, subways, streetcars, and trains-held greater appeal, pollution problems might have been less

Automobiles

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