Five fun historical facts from the first 50 years of x-ray technology
X-rays were a big discovery, sparking over 125 years of scientific innovation in the fields of healthcare, biology, space exploration, and even the arts. The first 50 years of x-ray history are particularly fascinating. Here are five items of interest from the first half-century:
1895 - Röntgen
German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen accidentally discovered the x-ray on Nov. 8, 1895 while experimenting with cathode rays. After experimenting with photographic plates and objects of different thicknesses, he enlisted the help of his wife to produce the first ever “röntgenogram,” an image of her hand.
1914 - Little Curies
Mobile radiography units were invented during World War I for use by army surgeons on the battlefield. Named “Little Curies” after their inventor, Marie Curie, vehicles outfitted with x-ray machines and equipment were sent to the frontlines to help doctors remove bullets and guide surgeries.
1927 - Scan Sisters
37% of radiologic technologists were nuns in 1927.
1928 - Fluoroscopes
In the 20s, retailers began advertising fluoroscopes as high-tech machines that could help customers select properly-fitting shoes. With the help of a store clerk, they allowed customers to view x-rays of their own feet by peering into a hole at the top of the contraption. By the 1950s, they had reached their peak popularity before it was determined they exposed the customers — and the store clerks — to unsafe amounts of radiation.
1946 - Bone Music
For decades, popular foreign music was only available in the Soviet Union via the black market. Records known as “Bone Music” or “Ribs” were cut by bootleggers on discarded x-ray film.