Hand-held Fluoroscope








Only a few weeks after Roentgen announced his discovery in January 1896, a fluoroscopic device was announced by different inventors under different names: “Cryptoscope” by Enrico Salvioni, “Skiascope” by William Francis Magie, and “Vitascope” by Thomas Edison who preferred later to call it “Fluoroscope”, a name widely adopted thereafter in English speaking countries.


Early types of hand-held fluoroscopes were light in weight and offered no protection to the operator. The above item, with a total weight of 5 lbs (2.25 Kgs) dates probably to the twenties, and was made by the Patterson Screen Company which started business late the second decade.


The whole front part of the fluoroscope, weighing 3.5 lbs (1.6 Kgs) is attached to the rest of the light-weight body by six brass “hook-and-eye” fixings, and could be opened for cleaning. The fluorescent surface measures about 7.5 x 9.5” (19 x 24 Cms) and the fluorescent screen (probably cadmium tungstate) is backed by a fairly thick glass plate of unknown lead equivalence. The viewing port is fitted on its contour with some thick black fur-like material.


The Edison “Vitascope”


A “Cryptoscope” in use with an early “Queen” x-ray table


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