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In the modern world, electrocardiography is a medical technology that is used every day in doctors' offices, clinics, and hospitals around the world. The technology grew out of investigations beginning in the late 18th century of electrical phenomena in living systems. Nerve and muscle are electrically active, and the heart produces currents and voltages that can be recorded in what is called the electrocardiogram (ECG). In the course of the 20th century, scientists and engineers elucidated the medical significance of ECGs, set standards for recording ECGs, and helped make the technology invaluable to medical practitioners.


1791 Luigi Galvani reports that an electric spark can cause muscle to twitch
1853 Hermann von Helmholtz develops the physics of the volume conductor problem
1856 R.A. von Kölliker and Heinrich Müller measure electric currents generated by frog heart
1887 A.D. Waller records a human electrocardiogram (ECG)
1901 Willem Einthoven describes the string galvanometer for recording an ECG
1927 William Craib develops the theory of a dipole source in a sphere
1933 Frank Wilson relates current sources in the heart to external potentials
1938 The first standards for electrocardiographs are published
1946 Herman Burger formalizes heart vector and lead vector concepts
1949 Norman Holter invents an ambulatory ECG monitor
1953 Otto Schmitt, Richard McFee, and Ernest Frank develop vector lead systems
1963 G.M. Baule and Richard McFee measure the magnetic field of the heart



References of Historical Significance

References for Further Reading

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