The History of the Vibrator

There were some fairly odd medical devices in common use before 1900 or so. Leeches were a common tool used by doctors, opioids were given to babies to help relieve coughs and irritability, and wood ash and alum was often mixed with bread in Victorian era-London… then given to babies to be weaned on. One of the most fascinating of the olden-style medical devices is still around today, though in a very different form. Today we take a look at the vibrator’s journey from a time-saving, steam-powered device for doctors, to the modern battery driven, technologically advanced vibrator.

The earliest vibrators

The earliest vibrators were invented as a tool to help doctors treat ‘female hysteria’. This common ‘condition’ often involved symptoms like irritability, loss of appetite, nervousness, headaches, and a fear of impending insanity… as well as a ‘tendency to cause trouble’! Doctors believed this disease originated in the womb, sometimes because women do not release fluids during sex like men do (and this buildup was supposed to cause problems), and sometimes because her uterus was thought to be wandering around the body, causing problems in the vital organs.

The medical treatment was manual massage, but this was time consuming… and sort of boring for the doctors, oddly enough! So, one of the first vibrators was invented.

Steam-powered vibrators and the medical profession

The steam powered vibrator was not in wide use, but was truly a revolutionary device because it began the idea of automating the task of bringing women to orgasm. The steam engine was in another room, but had a protrusion into the room where the patient was… allowing some sort of privacy. The greater relaxation this privacy afforded probably went some way towards speeding up that ‘hysterical paroxysm’.

Vibrators move into the private sphere – the mid to late 1900s

Vibrators were one of the first five household items to be electrified – the toaster came before the vibrator, but vibrating dildos beat out the vacuum cleaner and the iron. Around the early 1900s, vibrators started appearing in stag films – and the general public started to understand what they were for. They began to be advertised as ‘personal massagers’ in women’s needlework and homecraft magazines of the time, though all readers realised what they were really for!

Vibrator types available today

Just most 1700s era men and women would do at the thought of most of our modern implements today, they would be stunned by the array of vibrators available! There are now vibrators that buzz in time to the beat of the music on your iPod, vibrators made of 18ct gold, and vibrators that actually remember what you like… and then give it you next time you turn them on! Of course, we are also a lot more open about the purpose of the vibrator today. There is no need to seel them as tool for inducing hysterical paroxysm, nor as a home-massager.

The vibrator has come a long way in the last three-hundred years, and it is fascinating simply to think that adult toys have been around that long. It certainly makes you appreciate what we have today!