1. I didn’t see this mentioned in the earlier comments, but one option is the original word “EAT” changes to “FAT” if the bottom LED horizontal segment fails on the letter “E”, changing it to “F”.

  2. @ Nathan – In the previous discussion, everyone was assuming that the display was made up of six standard 7-segment decimal digits, as in “88:88:88“. If there is indeed a “correct” solution (which I doubt), the trick would be to find a believable representation that mimics a six-letter word of sufficient vulgarity. For the purpose of this excercise, I think we can ignore the fact that the third and fifth digits would (normally) only count up to 5. A “defect” doesn’t necessarily mean a “burned out” segment (it could also mean one that is lit when it’s not supposed to be). Therefore, it’s OK to use all of the possible segment combinations for all six digits.

  3. P.S. I forgot to mention that all of those ancient inverted calculator gimmicks (such as “0.7734” for “hELL.O”) are off limits, because nobody is ever going to invert a microwave.

  4. Kilby,

    I don’t think you have to eliminate 3rd and 5th going above 5, since I can enter 90 seconds in my microwave and it automagically converts to 1:30

  5. Chak: Definitely. I often enter 555 when I want 6 minutes because it’s faster. It’s a good trivia question: given a four-digit display, what’s the maximum time you can cook something for? The obvious and wrong answer is 9 hours 59 minutes 59 seconds; we know better!

  6. I can enter up to 99 seconds and it just counts down from there, i.e. it doesn’t convert it. I sometimes do what phsiiicidu mentioned. I’d learned that long ago in that old PBS show “Microwaves are for Cooking” with Donovan Jon Fandre. I will say that my current one has a feature where you can hit 1 through 5 and Start, then get a full-power cook for that many minutes.

  7. When my wife and I were shopping for our first “joint” microwave (nearly three decades ago), I wanted a digital model with a keyboard, but she was adamant about getting a (much smaller) model that just had twist dials (both for time and power settings). It took a while for me to get used to it, but in all honesty, accuracy down to the precise second is absolutely irrelevant for microwave “cookery”, and the twist dial is a lot easier to use. Thus, when we needed to replace that old microwave (just a couple of years ago), I went looking for a similar, simple model. Unfortunately, the idiot engineers who design appliances have now decided that the market wants a (useless, and impossible to clean) overhead grill in (nearly) every microwave. That narrowed the choices down to just two or three “acceptable” models.

  8. If you go to Target or Wal-Mart, you can get a basic microwave with no overhead grill for about $100. It will last until the warranty runs out, so then you can buy another one.

  9. @ MiB – We would still be using that 30-year old microwave today if a clueless dinner guest had not put a (too) heavy casserole dish into it (which busted the drive mechanism for the turntable). If we can keep him away from the new one, I expect that it will easily hold out for another 5 or even 10 years. I don’t remember exactly what it cost, but it was definitely under €100, probably around €80.

  10. We did not have a microwave when we got married or afterwards – until we bought our house and moved from our apartment , but that microwave was a gift from my sister. The problem with having the microwave was where to put it. We have 3 sections of about 2.5 feet each in length of counter space – toaster oven takes up one section, dish rack another and the remaining one is all the work counter space we have. So, our microwave ended up on top of the refrigerator, so (not) convenient to use (have I mentioned I am 5’1″ tall and husband is all of 5 inches taller) if one does not mind climbing up on a step stool to put things in, check on them, and take them out. It was rarely used – but once we had one – he had to replace it (twice) when they died).

  11. It’s possible that the microwave was trying to communicate “PRESS START”, and all Janis saw was the word “TART” — which is not only a tasty pastry, but an unkind word to call someone in some parts of the English-speaking world.

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