Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest inventors of modern times, and his early landmark discoveries include the radio and alternating current. He was able to transform household electricity into high voltage, high frequency, low amperage energy. His development of high frequency current in 1891 was picked up by the medical community as manufacturers incorporated this discovery in a variety of medial devices.
electrotherapeutic D’Arsonval, cage by Richard Heller of Paris (ca. 1890–1910)
Since electricity was more available in the twentieth century, manufacturers felt free to use their imagination. They aggressively promoted devices that used indirect current for use in the home as well as in doctors’ offices where large equipment such as cages and chairs could be found.
electrostimulation by Guillaume B.A. Duchenne, MD (1862), albumin print by Adrien Tournachon
Guillaume BA Duchenne, MD (1806-1875) was one of the pioneers of electrotherapy and a founder of modern neurology. In 1862, he published two atlases demonstrating various expressions that could be produced by stimulating different facial muscle groups.
theronoid coil with small demonstration light (ca. 1930)
Elias Smith of Normal, Illinois was the first to produce electromagnetic body coils (1869), but the most commercially successful was the I-ON-A-CO (I Own A Company) body coil, an eighteen inch insulated coil of wire connected to house current. It was nicknamed the “magic horse collar” and was worn around the neck or waist. Gaylord Wilshire of Los Angeles developed the I-ON-A-CO and charged $55 each, though he never reaped the financial benefit of his “discovery” since he died of kidney failure in New York not long after its production. Wilshire, a multifaceted individual, was for a time involved in real estate speculation just outside of Los Angeles, and is remembered today by his famous namesake, the Wilshire Boulevard.
advertisement fo the Merke Thermocap by Allied Merke Institutes, Inc., New York, for hair growth (ca. 1920)
Personal appearance has been of interest to patients from the earliest recorded history when Egyptian physicians treated baldness with “fat of lion, fat of hippopotamus, fat of cat, fat of crocodile, fat of ibex, fat of serpent, are mixed together and the head of the bald person is anointed with them.” In the nineteenth century, manufacturers responded to the market by producing a number of devices to address the “medical problem” of hair loss powered by direct current, static electricity, magnetism, heat, and vibration.
the Pathoclast, Model IX-C by Pathometric Laboratories, Chicago (ca. 1930)
This complex instrument was purportedly used for the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions. It is a radionics device meaning it collected your diseased abnormal sine radio waves and then neurtalized them thus providing a cure
The-Schanne-Electro-Podic-Apparatus, ca 1940
This is a galvanic and sinusoidal wave foot and body therapy machine with the control box to generate galvanic or sinusoidal current applied to the foot electrodes: galvanic for urology, hemorrhoids, and gynecology problems with slow sinusoidal current for constipation, nervousness, muscles, insomnia, and headaches.