What Sex Toys Looked Like Throughout History

In honor of May being International Masturbation Month, SKYN Condoms put together a little walk down memory lane in regards to the invention of the vibrator. The vibrator was originally created to cure “hysteria” in women, something that we know today was simply sexual frustration. Honestly, if some people go long enough without a proper orgasm, they’ll probably lose their mind, too — and that could explain why 44 percent of Millennials masturbate several times a week.

Although these once crude and terrifying archaic things with names like Dr. Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Crank (no joke) were real orgasm options, vibrators have come a long way. Today, the ones that you can pick up at your favorite sex toy shop are sleek, discreet, and instead of looking like a medieval torture device, some actually look like a work of art. Which is great news because, according to the SKYN Condoms Millennial Sex Survey, one in three American women own at least one vibrator. Whether you’re lugging it around from room to room or storing it next to your bed, anything with “Hand Crank” in the name is just a bit, well, awkward.

Even if your favorite way to masturbate isn’t a vibrator, the history of it is still something you definitely want to know. Because if you think the “Hand Crank” sounds funny, just wait until you see it. But first, check out our video on sex positions for small penises:

1. 13th Century: Doctor’s Professional Touch

Since the term “hysteria” goes back as far as the 13th century, long before we had electricity or batteries, the first vibrator was a doctor’s hand. In the 19th century, for those who needed a fix, a doctor would treat them with a pelvic massage. I can’t even imagine what that must have done for the medical business back then.

2. 1883: First Electrical Vibrator

In 1883, to give his fellow doctors a break with all those pelvic massages, an English physician, Dr. Joseph Moritmer Granville, came up with the first medical vibrator. No, you could not buy it in the store, but doctors could use it in their office, because it sure beat using their hand all day. And even more women were “cured” of their hysteria.

3. 1890: Pulsocon Hand Crank

Because evolution is the name of the game when it comes to inventions, Dr. Macaura decided to join the vibrator scene with his Pulsocon Hand Crank in 1890. This one wasn’t an electrical vibrator, but a hand crank. Yes, a hand crank that, according to SKYN Condoms, “resembled an egg beater.” I’ll just let that one marinate in your brain for a few.

4. 1902: First Take-Home Vibrator

Although I’m not sure how many people were rushing to the store to buy these things, but in 1902, Hamilton Beach (yes, the home appliance brand) patented the first electric vibrator that patients could take home. It didn’t quite look like an egg beater, but it also didn’t look enough NOT like an egg beater to make my vagina stop from weeping a little bit just at the sight of it.

5. 1937: Oster Stim-U-Lax

The 1920s and ‘30s were big decades for the vibrator. Not only did vibrators make their debut in porn in the 1920s, but the Oster Stim-U-Lax took vibrators in a whole other direction. Instead of just a machine, this device was meant to offer a “personal touch,” because it was strapped to the hand — I guess giving a little extra vibe to a very busy finger hard at work on the clitoris.

6. 1954: Niagara No. 1

What set the Niagara No. 1 apart from vibrators that came before was that it didn’t require a manual to use it. Yes, that thing right there didn’t require a user’s manual. I would need a user’s manual.

7. 2007: Vibrating Ring

I think we can all agree that by 2007 vibrators were definitely coming into their own. So much so that brands were branching out and creating new styles. It was this year that LifeStyles invented the one-size-fits-all, flexible Silicone Vibrator Ring. It’s pretty much a cock ring, and can probably be considered to be on the very early end of couples sex toys, which we’ve seen become more popular in the last couple years.

8. 2010: A:Muse Personal Pleasure Massager

In 2010, we started seeing more and more vibrators like LifeStyles' personal massager called a:muse. It featured multiple vibrations, as do many other vibrators today, and also like many sex toys on the market now, it doesn’t even look like a typical one. Or at least it doesn’t look like an egg beater and I think that's a great start.

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; LifeStyles (9)