Davis & Kidder’s patent Magneto Electric Machine (c. 1870-1890) produces alternating current electricity. The strength and frequency of the current is controlled by changing the cranking speed. Electricity is generated by a pair of solenoids that spin against the poles of a large horseshoe magnet. Gears and pulleys drive the spinning solenoids at a high rate of speed as the crank is turned.
The therapeutic value of the treatment, if any, was likely due to the placebo effect. With the electric shocks coursing through her body as she gripped the hand electrodes, the patient definitely felt that ‘something was being done’ about her complaint. Electricity was a new and novel force in the 1800’s and most patients had no prior exposure to it, adding to its curative mystique.
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1. About Dr. Olgierd Lindan’s Collection
Dr. Olgierd Lindan was fascinated by radio since he first set eyes on a radio set in 1917, at the age of four. He began collecting early radios in the late 1950’s when it was still possible to pick up Atwater Kent breadboards and Edison phonographs at the Salvation Army store for $5. He encountered his first ‘black box’ of quack electronics at an amateur radio hamfest and became hooked on the subject: it combined his fascination with radio – actually anything with glowing tubes sticking out of it qualified – and his profession as a medical research physician, with an entertaining dollop of flim-flam to top it all off. Over the intervening years his collection grew to thousands of items and books on the subjects of early radio, medicine, electrotherapy and quackery. Dr. Lindan passed away in March of 2009.