Early X-ray tube, 1896.
3 4 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 26cm

Early X-ray tube, 1896.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


This early German X-ray tube is of the form originally used by Wilhelm Roentgen (1845-1923), the discoverer of X-rays, in his research. Roentgen, a German profesor of physics, encountered emisions from a Crookes' discharge tube. Experiments revealed that these rays penetrated some substances more easily than others, and also fogged photographic plates. The fact that X-rays could produce images differentiating between the densities of body tisues, was a discovery which the medical profesion was keen to exploit. The tube features a cup-shaped cathode which serves to focus the cathode rays onto the target (a platinum anode). When the rays hit the anode, their energy changed into invisible X-rays, which pased out through the glas.

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