What Were The Earliest Vibrators Like?

by Nick Glossop on February 3, 20142 comments

They were steam-powered, coal-fired, belt-driven and studded with vibratodes as Rachel Maines, technology historian and author of The Technology of Orgasm explains. I thank her for introducing me to the term “vibratode,” and to the phrase “hedonizing technology.” She gives an eye-opening account of the social, medical and technological history of self-pleasure, replete with self-deceptions, hypocrisies and rooftop Chattanoogas.

But in any case, there’s the connection with hydrotherapy and then you wonder why Saratoga was so popular in the 19th century, especially with women? The men would go off and gamble and the women would go for the water cure. And some times it was very respectable and, you know, they just bathed at the water and everything was cool but there was also a thing called the douche, the Scotch douche, that was, I’ve seen pictures of it, it was pretty startling. Anyway…



So you know, no home should be without one. And they weren’t even that expensive, you know? But as I say, doctors didn’t like it because there was all this self-treatment going on, but doctors always disapprove of self-treatment.

More of Rachel Maines at Big Think.

Originally posted Jan. 31, 2011

2 comments

Malcolm Parker on February 1, 2011 at 2:37 am. #

I think it was in Lysistrata where the women were talking of cutting the men off from sex and asked
something like “what can I get from a man I can’t get from a six inch leather dingus?”

Jim Good on February 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm. #

Y’know, I’ve never really given this topic too much thought. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Shoveling coal to power a vibrator? There had to be an easier way. And, of course, there was. But maybe that was the point. I wonder if the “thrill” had more to do with forcing someone (a man?) to work as hard as possible. “I’m almost there – another bucket of coal and the special vibratode should do it.”