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History X-ray Machine

Hermann von Helmholtz formulated mathematical equations for X-rays. Physicist Johann Hittorf observed tubes with energy rays extending from a negative electrode. William Crookes investigated the effects of energy discharges on rare gases. Heinrich Hertz began experimenting and demonstrated that cathode rays could penetrate very thin metal foil (such as aluminium). In 1887, Nikola Tesla began to investigate X-rays and produced the bremsstrahlung process. In 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen began observing and further documenting X-rays while experimenting with vacuum tubes.

X-rays are produced by bombarding a surface with high speed electrons (in a vacuum). One of the first x-ray photographs was made of the hand of Röntgen's wife. The image displayed both her wedding ring and bones. On January 18, 1896 an X-ray machine was formally displayed by H.L. Smith. Upon discovery in 1895, X-Rays were advertised as the new scientific wonder and seized upon by entertainers. Circus patrons viewed their own skeletons and were given pictures of their own bony hands wearing silhouetted jewelry. While many people were fascinated by this discovery, others feared that it would allow strangers to look through walls and doors and privacy.

Early x-ray machines were used in stores to help sell shoes. These were known as fluoroscopes. However, as the harmful effects of X-ray radiation were discovered, they fell out of use. (They were more a clever marketing tool to attract customers than a fitting aid. Shoe-fitting use of the device was first banned by the state of Pennsylvania in 1957.)

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