History of Sex toys

I have had an interest in the video output of Kink.com’s Fucking Machines, not just because the videos are hot, but because the machines are awesome, despite their machines looking odd, history has had odder. Fucking machines and Sex Toys seem to have come about historically due to problems with “Female hysteria”.

Most of us are familiar with the current popular meanings of the word hysterical, when applied to a person, it means upset to the point of irrationality; applied to a situation, it means very funny. The usage has shifted from the technical designation of a disease paradigm to much more general references to uncontrolled, usually frivolous, emotions.

Female hysteria had been around since ancient Greek philosophers spoke of a “wandering womb.” According to Greek physician Galen, that wanderin’ womb could be repatriated through a medically induced “hysterical paroxysm” evidenced by vaginal contractions and the release of excess, pent-up, stagnatin’ pussy juice.

In the 19th century, masturbation was seen as a deviant behaviour, It was even more inappropriate for women to masturbate than for men, since women were believed (and taught) to be free from any form of sexual desire. Some physicians treated “female hysteria” – symptomized by:

  1. insomnia,
  2. irritability,
  3. nervousness,
  4. “a tendency to cause trouble”
  5. or “excessive moisture inside the vagina”

Female hysteriah was treated with what was termed “medicinal massage”, The treatment involved inserting a finger and gently rubbing the woman’s genitalia. “vulvar stimulation” (nothing to do with sex) then led to “paroxysm”, a sudden outburst in the patient which doctors (being men) believed was not orgasm, since women were thought incapable of orgasm. “Physician-assisted paroxysm” became popular among patients, but for doctors “pelvic massage” led to pained, sore fingers and wrists. Mechanical devices was soon adopted for the task, allowing treatment which had taken as long as an hour (and often failed) to instead be completed in mere minutes (and virtually always successfully).

History of the Vibrator:

And that history gets weirder and weirder from there, from bees to Victorian-era steam-powered dildos and hand cranked vibration devices to the famous Hitachi Magic Wand from the 70s and the most modern devices, almost abstract designs with Bluetooth control and throbbing memory. Boys and girls, ladies and gentleman, here is the amazing, bizarre history of the vibrator:

Cleopatra’s angry bees (54BC)

CleopatraAngryBees
Some people think the that the first vibrator in history may have been invented by Egyptian Queen Cleopatra; Apparently, she had the idea of filling a hollow gourd with angry bees.

A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons.

The violent buzzing caused the gourd to vibrate. Whether this was true or not, we will never know, however it would be rather an anti climatic should the bee escape.

Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD)

Double ended bronze dildo unearthed from Han dynasty tomb
Double ended bronze dildo unearthed from Han dynasty tomb

Le Tremoussoir (1734)

The Tremoussoir relied on a wind-up key. Looks somewhat like a sanding block.
The Tremoussoir relied on a wind-up key. Looks somewhat like a sanding block.

The Tremoussoir is Widely considered the world’s first vibrator, it depended on wind-up action from inserting a key in the hole marked “D” After revving up, you applied “B” to the area requiring “massage.”

Catherine the Great’s toy (1780s)

Artifact from the secret cabinets of Catherine the Great. Commissioned by her lover Grigory Orlov.
Artifact from the secret cabinets of Catherine the Great. Commissioned by her lover Grigory Orlov.

French Pelvic douche (1860)

French Pelvic douche
French Pelvic douche

The Manipulator (1869)

The Manipulator
The Manipulator

One of the first mechanical vibrators was the steam-powered Manipulator…

The Manipulator was invented by Dr. George Taylor in 1869. This steam powered beast was as powerful as it was noisy hid its engine in another room with the apparatus sticking through the wall.

The Weiss vibrator (1883)

The Weiss vibrator
The Weiss vibrator

The Weiss vibrator was an early, if not the first electromechanical vibrator (or “musculo-skeletal relaxation device”) to be commercially available, available by 1883 from the still-active British medical instrument manufacturer Weiss. It was based on the work of a British physician, from whose book this illustration is drawn: Granville, J. Mortimer. Nerve-vibration and excitation as agents in the treatment of functional disorder and organic disease. London: Churchill, 1883.

Yalor

Yalor
Yalor

Yalor is, like Taylor’s Manipulator, a steam-powered device of 1885, although the steam-engine is out of frame (to the right) in the picture. It was used for what was then known as “Swedish Massage,” as shown.

Dr. Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank / Blood Circulator (1890)

Dr Macauras Pulsocon Hand Crank
Dr Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank – Dr. Macaura’s Pulsocon could be from as early as the early 1880’s or as late as about 1900.
Dr Macauras Pulsocon Hand Crank
Dr Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank

The Pulscon Hand Crank is almost as scary looking as an angry beehive.

The action is a plunging motion of the centre disk at the end combined with a rotating eccentric weight. There were also vibratodes (attachments) that would screw into the centre disk.

The Potsdam jolting chair (1890)

The Potsdam jolting chair
The Potsdam jolting chair

The Potsdam jolting chair dates from about 1890; the technology may have originated at the Salpetriere in Paris.

The patient, sitting in the chair, pulled back on the two handles and received a jolt that was intended to replicate the supposed therapeutic effects of train travel.

2011’s Hysteria

Hysteria, a mischievously inspired romantic comedy set in the late 19th century, is based on the surprising truth of how (Joseph) Mortimer Granville came up with the world’s first electromechanical vibrator in the name of medical science.

Mortimer invented the electric vibrator, not as a sexual device but to relieve more mundane muscle aches. Originally called a percusser or more colloquially “Granville’s hammer”, the machine was manufactured and sold to physicians, but as it became increasingly popular its inventor tried to disassociate himself from the device’s “mis-use”.

In his 1883 book on the subject, “Nerve-Vibration and Excitation as Agents in the Treatment of Functional Disorder and Organic Disease” [link], he wrote:

I have never yet percussed a female patient […] I have avoided, and shall continue to avoid the treatment of women by percussion, simply because I do not wish to be hoodwinked, and help to mislead others, by the vagaries of the hysterical state.

Electromechanical vibrators were first used in medicine in 1878 and were available as a consumer product by 1900. The vibrator was the 5th home appliance to be electrified. It was preceded by the sewing machine, fan, tea kettle, and the toaster. It would be another ten years before the electric vacuum, iron, and frying pan became available as consumer products.

But by 1917, there were more vibrators in American homes than toasters

The Electrospatteur (1901)

The Electrospatteur
The Electrospatteur

The Electrospatteur, another physician’s model, delivered a combination of vibration with a mild electrical shock. It was manufactured by the Armstrong Electric Company of Indianapolis about 1901.

The Victor (1903)

The Victor
The Victor

The Victor was manufactured by Keystone Electric of Philadelphia in 1903. The left side was a vibrator, the speed of which was controlled by the lever in the middle of the console, the one over the (unlabelled) mother-of-pearl speed indicators. The right side was a pneumatic attachment, which, like a vacuum cleaner, could either inhale or exhale. It could, as it were, either blow or suck, depending on the user’s requirements.

The Birtman (1904)

The Birtman
The Birtman

The Birtman was an office model available to physicians in 1904. The motor is inside the large housing at the top; vibratodes were attached to the gun-shaped applicator at the end of the cable. The image is from Snow, Mary Lydia Hastings Arnold. Mechanical vibration and its therapeutic application. New York: Scientific authors’ Pub. Co., 1904.

“THE CHATTANOOGA” (1904, U.S.A.)

The Chattanooga vibrator, manufactured by the Chattanooga Medical Company
The Chattanooga vibrator, manufactured by the Chattanooga Medical Company

Another Steam-powered and nearly five feet tall, this vibrator required two men to shovel coal into a furnace while a physician manipulated a patient’s genitals from the other side of a wall using a mechanical arm.

SCR’s version of the Chattanooga.

Described in the book The Technology of Orgasm as the “Cadillac of vibrators” because of its $200 price tag (in 1900), the Chattanooga was designed for, ahem… interior use. It consisted of a pole with a moveable arm. On that arm was a rod that could be made to vibrate.

This instrument will be found to be an invaluable aid to the physician in the treatment of all nervous diseases and female trouble.

Described in the book The Technology of Orgasm as the “Cadillac of vibrators” because of its $200 price tag (in 1900), the Chattanooga was designed for, ahem… interior use. It consisted of a pole with a moveable arm. On that arm was a rod that could be made to vibrate.

The Detwiller Pneumatic Vibrator (1906)

The Detwiller Pneumatic Vibrator
The Detwiller Pneumatic Vibrator

This looks more like turn-of-the-century dental equipment than something designed for pleasure.

The Arnold Massage Vibrator (1909)

The Arnold Massage Vibrator
The Arnold Massage Vibrator

According to the Vintage Vibrator Museum, author Mark Twain owned an Arnold; we’re still not convinced.

Pamphlet published by the Shelton Electric Co. of Chicago & New York, (1910)
Pamphlet published by the Shelton Electric Co. of Chicago & New York, (1910)

The Chic Electric Vibrator (1910)

The Chic Electric Vibrator
The Chic Electric Vibrator

The Infra-Red Heat Massager

The Infra-Red Heat Massager
The Infra-Red Heat Massager

“Scientifically designed small to reach the small crevices and contours of the face and body.”

White Cross Electric Vibrator advert from New York Times (1913)

White Cross Electric Vibrator advert from New York Times (1913)
White Cross Electric Vibrator advert from New York Times (1913)

Sears, Roebuck & Co. Catalogue (1918)

 A copy of part of a Roebuck & Co. Catalogue from 1918, this shows some of the more scary things you can do at home, including a set of attachments for a Sewing machine motor to turn it into a Vibrator (same motor can be used as a buffer or a grinder).

A copy of part of a Roebuck & Co. Catalogue from 1918, this shows some of the more scary things you can do at home, including a set of attachments for a Sewing machine motor to turn it into a Vibrator (same motor can be used as a buffer or a grinder).

The Vibra-King Activator (1922)

The Vibra-King Activator
The Vibra-King Activator

Electric massage vibrator (1922)

Electric massage vibrator, manufactured by Drake Electric Works, 1922.
Electric massage vibrator, manufactured by Drake Electric Works, 1922.

The Polar Club Electric Vibrator (1928)

The Polar Club Electric Vibrator
The Polar Club Electric Vibrator

The Massage Master VII (1928)

The Massage Master VII
The Massage Master VII

The Rolling Pin Heat Massager (1932)

The Rolling Pin Heat Massager
The Rolling Pin Heat Massager

A heat massage sounds nice in theory, but do you really want to poke yourself with something that looks like a hot rolling pin / Soldering iron?

The Vibrosage (1933)

The Vibrosage
The Vibrosage

This little guy is kind of adorable… until you look at the spiked attachment.

Oster Stim-U-Lax (1937)

Oster Stim-U-Lax
Oster Stim-U-Lax

The Oster Stim-U-Lax came just before World War II. Capable of transforming anyone’s lazy hand into a soft vibrator, it was a great idea for those ladies who liked a more gentle touch and weren’t into the whole manual friction thing.

The Oster Stim-U-Lax for Barbers
The Oster Stim-U-Lax for Barbers

This intimidating strap-to-your-hand model had “forceful vibrations” and a “large, strong motor”.

The Hollywood Vibra-Tone (1940s)

The Hollywood Vibra-Tone
The Hollywood Vibra-Tone

Gyro-Lator (1945)

Gyro-Lator
Gyro-Lator

1945 brought the atomic bomb and the Gyro-Lator, which looks like a pleasant version of the deadly Fat Man. It was made of metal, but it was the first vibrator that actually looked like a vibrator and not like a weird contraption seemingly designed to kill aliens.

The Eskimo 750 (1949)

The Eskimo 750
The Eskimo 750

Don’t you just want to get cosy with this on a cold winter’s night? *cries*

The Handy Hannah (1950)

The Handy Hannah
The Handy Hannah

Clearly designed to make your labia frown.

Niagara No. 1 (1954)

Niagara No. 1
Niagara No. 1

The 1954 Niagara No. 1 was the first vibrator to have force control using a rotary potentiometer than anyone could understand and use without any manual. Apparently, it was a joy to use compared to the previous models.

The Niagra Hand Unit (1965–1976)

The Niagra Hand Unit
The Niagra Hand Unit

Just in case you were unsure, the pointed end goes UP. (The good news? The Niagra had the Good Housekeeping stamp of approval), and that NHC still make the “hand unit

The Wahl Hand-E Vibrator (1957)

The Wahl Hand-E Vibrator
The Wahl Hand-E Vibrator

While the Hand-E vibrator was the predecessor to some modern vibrators, it’s still a little foreboding.

The Spot Reducer (1950s)

The Spot Reducer
The Spot Reducer

Like many early vibrators, the Spot Reducer claimed to help users lose weight. It also featured a vibrating rubber suction cup.

The Prelude 3 (1976)

The Prelude 3
The Prelude 3

We can’t get on board with a vibrator that has the colour and overall vibe of orthopaedic shoes.

Hitachi Magic Wand (1968)

The Hitachi Magic Wand, two different versions of its box.
The Hitachi Magic Wand, two different versions of its box.

More details on the Hitachi Magic Wand can be found on its post.