The story of vibrators began around 1870 in Britain, powered by steam and first invented as a medical device for treatment of a female ailment. A condition known as hysteria was the problem and considered in early times as a disease. The history of the device its self is fascinating and sure to arouse ones curiosity. The early designs, in today's world, would appear more of a torture device than to induce pleasure. The history of the medical condition that enticed the invention dates much earlier. The condition was documented in ancient Greece and possibly even as early as the 2nd century.
Hysteria named after the Greek word for uterus, was thought by Hippocrates to be a medical condition in females caused by being deprived of sexual intercourse. Thus causing a dysfunction of the uterus where as it becomes to dry and light from the lack of sex, causing the uterus to move upward in the body becoming lodged until it radiates from the body at that location. Suffocation and madness were thought to be possible if the condition was left untreated. Common symptoms of hysteria ranged from nervousness to muscle spasm, irritability, insomnia and even fluid retention. No woman was safe from the disease and it could be found in virgins, single women, nuns and even some married women if there was not an adequate amount of sex within the marriage.
The treatment for this wide spread condition was vaginal massage until hysterical paroxysm (orgasm) was achieved. Since the earliest times masturbation was thought to be not only immoral but dangerous as well. Neither sex was to indulge in the act of masturbation, leaving no real way to self treat the condition.
In Early times this would have been performed by a midwife. As the condition became more widespread, and nearly any ailment could be related to Hysteria, physicians soon realized treating this condition could be very profitable. Thought to be a much easier treatment than that of diseases being life threatening, they began treating the condition in their office.
Proving not to be as easy to treat as thought, the physicians found it was taking much more time to manually stimulate each woman to hysterical paroxysm (orgasm). The technique was tedious and difficult for a physician to master. What appeared at first to be an easy treatment ended up taking hours to accomplish by the doctor. Midwifes could achieve the same result in much less time than the patients physician, causing them to lose patients. As the physicians started losing money and business to midwives they began seeking a better more efficient way to treat hysteria.Thus the vibrator was born.
The invention of the device shortens the treatment times and eliminates the need for the midwife. Saving time lead to increasing the physician's treatment capacity and their profits soared. The first French model, a hydrotherapy device, was found in many spas. Nothing more than a large water hose, aimed at the vagina and said to achieve hysterical paroxysm (orgasm) with in just minutes. Being too large for doctors to set up in their office, alternative inventions were still being searched for. It was 1870 when the steam powered vibrator first appeared in Britain, a device still too large for the examining room. This was a very large machine mounted under a table with a cut out area to access the female genitals. A sphere driven by a steam engine did all the work. This was soon followed by the invention of a hand operated vibrator device for the treatment, featuring a wind up clock mechanism. This was a much smaller device than the steam model, but proved to be tiresome and not very effective.
Finally by 1873 an electromechanical vibrator was invented. Being small and electric seemed to be just what the doctors had been looking for. This device had several interchangeable attachments, it was battery powered, and could produce vibrations at nearly 7000 pulses per minute.
A controversy was soon to follow with the invention of the speculum, the device being used during female examinations of the vagina, and involving penetration of the vagina. The medical concepts of the period were that a women's sexual pleasure involves penetration. Insertion being thought of as sexual, and the act of treating Hysteria not involving more than rubbing and manipulating the genitals, it seemed to be perfectly acceptable for physician's to continue treating Hysteria.
Since by this time it was thought that nearly 75% of the female population suffered from hysteria, it was more important than ever for the medical professionals to find a treatment that was both fast and effective.
The search continued for inventions and more and more models surfaced. The electromechanical model seemed to be the ideal vibrator. With many variations ranging from floor standing units to portable hand held units, even a ceiling hung model that today would look similar to something found in a mechanics shop than in a physician's exam room. With the invention of this wide range of units available, physicians were able to corner the market on the treatment.
Electrification in the early 20th century made it possible to miniaturized vibrators somewhat, in a manor of speaking. Hamilton Beach patented their first hand held vibrator in 1902, designed for self treatment at home. These machines were very large, with a big box attached, and were likely very noisy. These models appeared more than ten years before the electric toaster or the vacuum sweeper. By this time it was a race to see who could invent the best vibrator for home use. The ads were every where, stating what the benefits of each model were. Good Housekeeping ran an ad in 1909 claiming they left a glow on your face. Some models claimed their device not only cured Hysteria, but deafness, polio, and impotence, as well and many other things.
Now that vibrators had become smaller and more cost effective for people to purchase for use at home, the doctors began to stop the treatments in their offices. Vibrators were widely advertised before the First World War. Vibrators were buzzing until the invention of silent movies featuring the use of a vibrator in a sexual manor that caused them to be discredited. Soon, ads were taken down and the sale of vibrators was nearly non existent. Vibrators were gone from public view. This lasted nearly 50 years. Although vibrators continued to be manufactured, they were marketed as neck vibrators and only sold through catalogs as mail order.
It wasn't until 1952 that the American Psychiatric Association officially removed Hysteria, history's most frequently diagnosed female disorder from the journal as a disease. By the 1960's and the start of the sexual revolution, shops began to offer vibrators again, this time designed for penetration and for pleasure use. These were largely bought in back streets or back rooms of shops. These vibrators were rather large, noisy, and very plain in appearance, and still not well accepted by many.
Almost fifty years later they are being bought by men & women right on Main Street. Now much smaller, in many different colors shapes and designed for clitoral stimulation, g- spot and p-spot stimulation, even with realistic penis styles. They now come in every type of material imaginable, some so quite you can hardly hear them; some are even rechargeable and waterproof. They have become readily available now and can be found places that 50 years ago would have never considered selling such things. Common department stores now carry them, finger tip massagers and vibrating condoms at K-mart, personal massagers, clit stimulating cock ring and vibrating condoms at CVS drug store and Walgreen's, dolphin massagers, vibrating cock rings, vibrating condoms and flavored lubes at Wal-Mart, and many other places you would never imagine sold them. Search for your self and see how many places carry them that you would never think of. Would most people want to go to Wal-Mart and scan a sex toy at the check out? Probably not, that's why online shopping has become a favorite today
The industry is growing every day to almost 12 billion dollars a year in the US alone. Stores like those listed above have began to realize they were missing out on sales to online sex toy stores and decided to get on board. They do not have a large selection like most online sex toy stores would have, but never the less they have accepted the fact that people want to buy sex toys and vibrators in the 21st century. So be a part of history in the making and go online and see for your self how far vibrators have came since their start almost 150 years ago.