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Posted on July 09, 2014
Stethoscopes where developed in the early 1800’s. Prior to the stethoscope, Doctors examined patients by placing their ear or hand directly on the patient. It was not easy to hear or feel the sounds made by the heart or lungs. Doctor Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennnec was examining a young female patient when he discovered he could clearly hear heart sounds when he rolled up a piece of paper to create a tube and place it in his ear. It was amazing that he could hear the sounds of the heart so clearly! The first stethoscope was made of wood and was used with one ear. It was quite similar to the hearing aid of that time which was called an ear trumpet. The word stethoscope is a combination of two Greek words, stethos(chest) and scopos(examination).
In the mid 1950’s the stethoscope was improved to include two ear pieces by Irish physician Arthur Leared and was further improved for commercial production and the first written material on using a stethoscope by George Cammann. Further changes where made until the stethoscope resembles today’s.
The most common stethoscope is the acoustic stethoscope. When we go to see a physician it is the one they use to take our blood pressure and listen to our heart stomach and lungs..
The electronic stethoscope was developed in the 1950’s by distinguished cardiologist Dr David Littman(1906-1981). This stethoscope had an enhanced acoustical performance and is a powerful diagnosis tool. Dr. Littman was a Harvard graduate, professor and researcher and is considered an expert in electrocardiography..
The company Cardiosonics, Inc. was created by Dr. Littman and Gus Machlup to sell the stethoscopes. It consisted of two types, a nurse’s stethoscope and a Doctors. .
On April 4,1967 the stethoscope company was acquired by 3M who hired Dr Littman as a consultant. Littman stethoscopes are still considered the gold standard. Today’s stethoscopes are very lightweight, offer superior outside noise reduction while amplifying sounds. They have improved so much over the years they can even pick up subtle sounds that otherwise may be missed.
Formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, 3M is based in Maplewood, Minnesota and was founded in 1902. It is a company based on research, which happened on accident when minerals used to make sandpaper where damaged by olive oil during transportation. The minerals did not stick to the paper and they were roasted to remove the olive oil which allowed them to stick to the paper. Now, the company produces more than 55,000 products, employs more than 88,000 people and has operations in 65,000 countries. In addition to Littman Stethoscopes it produces a wide range of products including dental products, electronic materials, adhesives, abrasives, and laminates. It is also know for the development of Post-it notes. They follow a business model based on “the ability to not only develop unique products, but also to manufacture them efficiently and consistently around the world.” They sell their products through retailers, distributers and through sales directly through the company.