Four monoaural stethoscopes, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The stethoscope first devised in 1816 by the French physician, Rene Laennec (1781-1826), was a simple hollow tube. The other stethoscopes illustrated were later developments of the device by Lloyd Roberts and Dr A Davies. Stethoscopes were devised to help the physician diagnose diseases of the lungs, heart and vascular systems by listening to the internal rhythms and sounds of the human body.