Early Technology Up Close

X-ray technology may seem futuristic but its origins date back to 1895. German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen discovered it by passing high voltage electricity through vacuum tubes which produced small amounts of X-Rays. The Gundelach style tube (pictured below) manufactured in the 1910’s made numerous improvements to the tubes, mainly in the durability and efficiency of the unit.

Unfortunately, at the time the health risks of prolonged exposure X-Rays were unknown. These early devices required up to 20-30 minutes of exposure (compared to a fraction of a second needed today) leading to deadly radiation sickness. But before the technology could be properly understood and restricted, the public had its fun using fluoroscopes to see bones in their feet while trying on shoes or through their hand while sitting at a table.

By the mid-20th century, the radiation effects became better understood. The trivial uses of the technology were removed, and medical facilities increased the safety of their equipment and techniques.

But this tube is perfectly safe to come and see, along with many other early technological advances and Boerne-related artifacts at the Kuhlmann-King historical complex every second Saturday from 12-3 or message us to set up a private tour.

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