Scary historical vibrators

Gizmodo has a scary and interesting article on the history of the mechanical vibrator. They interviewed Dr. Rachel Maines, author of The Technology of Orgasm, who provides some background on the development of sex toys.

It turns out there actually were vibrators before electricity, industrialization and Victorian taboo combined to create the precursors to the motorized gadgets we know today. The first identifiable model was a hand-crank device made in 1734, believe it or not.

The notion that women could be relieved of the illness of “hysteria” by genital manipulation to the point of orgasm, pardon me, I mean “paroxysm”, had been current in medical circles since Galen in the 2nd century. It just took a few hundreds of years for motors to be involved.

According to Dr. Maines, all vibrators are just inefficient motors. “All motors vibrate. If you make a motor that’s especially sloppy, it’ll vibrate more. That’s the principle behind the vibrator: a very sloppy motor that’s designed to vibrate.” An efficient motor, such as the one that runs your fridge, would make for a seriously crappy vibrator. But the Manipulator, which was essentially an inefficient steam engine with a dildo attached to it, did the job swimmingly.

One of the first mechanical vibrators was the steam-powered Manipulator … invented by Dr. George Taylor in 1869. This monster machine hid its engine in another room with the apparatus sticking through the wall.

I’m going to put the picture after the jump because it’s basically a dildo attached to a train engine, so fair warning for the more delicate among us.

Steam powered vibrator, 1869

I know what you’re thinking: gee I hope I get one of those for Valentine’s Day, that happy day when 20% of the vibrators sold in a year are bought.

There’s a whole gallery more of such off-putting historical vibrators here.


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Comment by Gayle M
2010-02-13 23:51:12

I pity his wife if this was the best he could do. One has to imagine that it, um, mimicked his own technique.

Comment by livius drusus
2010-02-14 00:21:47

Drill, baby, drill. :giggle:

Comment by Nullifidian
2010-02-16 10:30:01


Comment by Best vibrators
2010-03-07 11:18:43

Oh my goodness! Loved the blog…

Comment by livius drusus
2010-06-05 23:59:06

Glad to hear it. :hattip:

Comment by Neth
2010-06-05 21:11:30

I wonder if this is what is in the Engine of a smart car?

Comment by livius drusus
2010-06-05 23:59:47

:lol: Smart cars would sell a lot more if it were.

Comment by LuxeToys
2014-09-04 07:53:23

That sex toy machine look so barbaric! Strangely, these newer versions of it on the market today. Lol. Makes me shudder..

Comment by Andres Serrano
2014-12-05 12:02:19


I work for a University in Bogotá, Colombia.
Here we have a SexLab and we are working in a blog. I was wondering about this image:

Is it of public domain? Can we use it in our blog?

Thank you for your collaboration.


Andrés Serrano

Comment by Lauren Clark
2018-02-13 14:03:12

yum! :p

Comment by Alex
2019-01-27 07:35:38

Excellent! Thank you so much for this post.

Comment by Pranjal
2020-04-24 16:20:16

interesting post on vibrator..

Comment by Sex Toys Auckland
2020-09-22 03:32:13

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Comment by Jhonson
2021-05-02 21:45:42

Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

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