Leyden Jars

Leyden Jars

The Leyden jar was invented in Leyden, a city in the Netherlands, separately by two different men, German cleric Ewald Georg von Kleist and Dutch scientist Pieter van Musschenbroek in 1745. Leyden jars store and discharge static electricity for scientific experiments. They were also used in some of the first

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Radio Knife

Electro-cautery Radio Knife

Cauterization, first used in the 16th century, was a method of burning body parts, such as a blood vessels or open wounds to stop bleeding and close amputations. It was thought to prevent infection. In the modern era, doctors use electrocautery devices, which are not heated by fire but instead

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Magneto

Magneto

Magneto-electric machines like this were common in the second half of the 19th century. These easy-to-use machines were sold to doctors and the general public as a cure for pain and many other ailments. They produce periodic pulses of alternating current (AC), which are applied to the body. Early telephones

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Electric Bath Patent Model

Electric Bath Patent Model

This is the original patent model for an Electro-Therapeutic Bathing Apparatus, invented by William W. Karshner. The patent was filed on January 25, 1859. After President George Washington established the first Patent Act, these miniature-scale models that showed how inventions worked were required by the United States Patent and Trade

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Coolpate Forehead Cooler

Coolpate Forehead Cooler

This home remedy was popular in the early 20th century. “Light as a feather and cool as the coolest spring,” it was billed as being indispensable for “Brainworkers, Students, Sportsmen and Those Vocations That Place Its Workers Under a Mental Stress.” Supposedly, this product increased blood circulation in the head

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Violet Ray

Violet Ray

Before the turn of the 20th century, Nikola Tesla was interested in the medical applications of high-frequency electricity and patented several objects for such an application. One object was the violet ray generator that used various electrodes to send high-frequency electricity into the user’s body. The device was used to

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Electricity is Life

Electricity is Life

The Electricity is Life machine could be found in arcades around the turn of the 20th century. People might pay a penny to cure their ailments such as “headaches, neuralgia, rheumatism, nervousness.” The machine generated an electric current when a person moved the handles. In addition to its supposed medical

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On Medical Material (De materia medica)

On Medical Material

Pedanius Dioscorides was a first-century physician traveling with the Roman army under Emperor Nero to places such as Italy, Gaul, Spain, and Greece. During his travels, he studied local plants, making note of their medicinal uses and adding extensively to the knowledge of plant use in medicine. When he finished

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Jarvik-7, First Successful Artificial Heart

Jarvik-7, First Successful Artificial Heart

First used in 1982, this device assists the heart in pumping blood and is powered by a separate air compressor outside of the body. The artificial heart attaches directly to the natural one. Named for its designer, Dr. Robert K. Jarvik, it was used as a permanent implant for five

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Perkins Tractors

Perkins Tractors

Connecticut physician Elisha Perkins developed “Perkins” tractors to cure a variety of ailments, such as rheumatism, gout, and inflammation. He theorized that these iron or brass pins, when drawn across the painful area, would ease discomfort. In 1796, Perkins applied for a U.S. patent for his tractors. That same year,

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