History of vibrators that give orgasm to women


Sarah Gibson

Sarah Gibson is the brains and attitude behind the playful adult toy website sexgear . She is also our official ‘sexpert’.


Vibrators have existed for centuries, but have you ever wondered how they came to be? We’re delving into the colourful past of these popular bedroom toys.


If you can remember the first mobile phones; then you may not be surprised to hear that vibrators haven’t always come in the discreet little packages that we’ve come to know and love today. In fact, the first electrical vibrator weighed in at 40 pounds and needed two people to operate it!

But the more interesting story isn’t what vibrators used to be like but why they came into existence. And to discover this we need to journey back to the Victorian era. A time when stream railways were in their heyday; adventurous travellers were exploring the globe… and doctors were using pelvic massage to treat ‘female hysteria’!

That’s right, women would go to the doctors feeling ‘hysterical’ (or horny) and the obliging fellows would treat the condition with a dose of masturbation. Now, as I’m sure you can appreciate stimulating countless women to orgasm by hand was an exhausting task; and doctors of the time would often suffer from sore fingers and tired wrists.

So having identified a gap in the market, in 1869 a clever American physician created the ‘Manipulator’ a steam powered (typically Victorian) device that offered relief to both the patient and the over worked doctors.

Eleven years later, as technology developed, this bulky and somewhat awkward device was superseded by the first electromechanical vibrator.  Its inventor, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville intended for the device only to be used as a massager for mundane muscle aches, but its other ‘medical benefits’ were discovered and the device was soon commandeered for the task of bringing women to orgasm in mere minutes.

The vibrator experienced a boom in popularity and in 1902 became available for retail sale – making them the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified – about a decade before the vacuum cleaner and electric iron! Not surprisingly these take home versions proved very popular with women. But, when motion picture came along and pornographic films made it clear how these ‘massagers’ were being used, vibrators went underground. It was no longer possible for polite society to deny the sexual nature of the devices.

In 1952 in the states, vibrators were withdrawn from sale and even outlawed in many areas after the American Psychiatric Association concluded that female hysteria was a myth, not a disease. And to this day the sale of vibrators for sexual purposes remains illegal in the state ofAlabama.

Alabamaaside, the vibrator made a comeback in the swinging 60s when Jon H. Tavel patented the ‘Cordless electric vibrator for use on the human body’. And the rest as they say, is history. A whole host of innovations and improvements followed and the vibrator has evolved into the product on our shelves available today. Vibrators now come in all shapes, sizes and colours. From The Cone to The Rabbit Vibrator (which was made famous by Sex and The City). And with 56% kiwi women aged 25 to 34 owning one, they sure are popular!


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