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Portable electrocardiograph, Cambridge, England, 1946

Portable electrocardiograph, Cambridge, England, 1946

Credits: National Railway Museum

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Tiny electrical signals coordinate the heart’s beats. They can also indicate heart disorders. An electrocardiograph machine detects and records these signals to examine the heart. The signals ripple outwards and are picked up by metal sensors stuck to the skin. Willem Einthoven (1860-1927) developed the electrocardiograph during the early 1900s. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1924 for his research. This portable version is shown with its leather carrying case and it dates from 1946. It was made by the Cambridge Scientific Instrument Company, a company founded by Charles Darwin’s nephew, Horace.

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Glossary: electrocardiograph

used to record the electrical activity of the heart

Glossary: cardiology

The study of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels.