In the 1880’s British physician, Joseph M. Granville, was searching for a better way to ‘cure’ hysteria in his female patients. By 1883, he had patented the first electromechanical vibrator, a medical device that could perform “therapeutic massage” in a quick and effective manner.
Early in the 20th century, portable home units were advertised in women’s magazines and almanacs, thus making the purchase of a personal vibrating massager through mail order a popular alternative to visiting the doctor for prescribed ‘treatments.’
An advertisement (circa 1918) for the White Cross Vibrator claimed:
It will chase away the years like magic. Every nerve, every fibre of your whole body will tingle with the force of your awakened powers. All the keen relish, the pleasures of youth, will throb within you.
As electric lines went up across North America, even Sears and Roebuck advertised a vibrator attachment for it’s home motor. (Did you know that home vibrators were invented before the vacuum cleaner and the electric iron?) The list of Sears Home Motor attachments included:Home mixer, churn, beater, fan, buffer and grinder, and portable vibrator.
In an interesting twist of history, ‘massagers’ began to show up in the first ‘stag’ films of the 1920’s and 30’s after which the medical justification for them quickly waned. Hmmm.