Double focus X-ray tube

1896 in Europe

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Double focus X-ray tube, 1896. Graduated white background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Double focus X-ray tube, 1896.

This tube worked by using an alternating electric current, which accelerates electrons towards an aluminium plate. This produced x-rays at both ends of the tube. Wilhelm Röntgen (1845-1923), a German physician, took the first x-ray in 1896 of his wife’s left hand. Dense areas of bone show up as white whilst soft tissue allow the x-ray to pass through undeterred. Very quickly x-rays proved their usefulness as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool in medicine. Within six months of Röntgen’s announcement x-rays were being used by battlefield physicians to locate bullets in wounded soldiers. X-rays allowed physicians their first look inside the body without resorting to surgery.


Object Number:
aluminium (cathodes), glass, platinum (anticathodes) and wood
diameter (sphere): 75 mm,
diameter (stand base): 77 mm,
diameter (arm): 25 mm,
x-ray tube
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • x-ray machine

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