Although it had several manually operated predecessors, the manipulator was one of the first mechanical vibrators. It is an early progenitor of today’s slick toys that require a small storage box rather than a warehouse of home repair tools.
Later, in the late 19th century, electric vibrators followed the steam-powered original and soon became popular with physicians for their supposed ability to cure a range of ailments, from arthritis to constipation. A widely held story is that early vibrators were used to treat hysteria, a condition that occurs only in women and is thought to be caused by a “vagrant uterus.” For a long time it was believed that the uterus roams all over the body, like an animal hungry for sperm. If she wandered in the wrong direction and got, for example, to the throat, there was choking, coughing or loss of voice, and if the uterus was stuck in the chest, chest pain or shortness of breath, and so on.
Most of the symptoms that have been found in the female body can be attributed to this “wandering uterus”. “Treats” including vaginal fumigations, bitters, balms, and wool pessaries were used to bring the uterus back into place. “Genital massage” performed by a qualified doctor or midwife is often mentioned in medical writings. The triad of marriage, intercourse and pregnancy was the ultimate cure for a sperm-hungry womb. The uterus was a source of anxiety and was best “satiated” during pregnancy.
Symptoms of hysteria as an illness included fatigue, restlessness, irritability, and desire for sex. Judging by how popular such treatment has become, almost half of the inhabitants of British cities “sick” with hysteria. Treatment? Applying a vibrator to the vulva until a “hysterical paroxysm” occurs, that is, in our modern terminology, an orgasm, which was supposed to temporarily remove the symptoms of hysteria. These pages of history, in particular, are shown in the film “Without Hysteria!”
However, there is another theory, set out in the book “The Age of Hypocrisy. Sex and Erotica in Pre-War Poland” by Kamil Janicki, who reports that the first vibrators were created exclusively for body massage without any erotic overtones. Supporting this theory is the fact that the electric vibrator invented by Joseph Mortimer Granville at the end of the 19th century should, at least according to the intention of its creator, be used only for massage, which became very popular at the end of the 19th century. “Regardless of which of these versions is closer to the truth, it is an indisputable fact that vibrators were created to give women pleasure. And nothing has changed in this respect over the years. Interestingly, modern vibrators are able to reconcile both theories, as they are now used both for internal erotic stimulation and externally for therapeutic purposes as massagers,” explains Anna Moderska, a sex consultant and educator who collaborates with the German adult toy manufacturer Fun Factory.
But, apparently, not all ladies of the late XIX – early XX century wanted to visit doctors. And, starting around 1900, ladies’ leisure magazines began to publish advertisements for vibrators as health and beauty devices (often with a meaningful wink at the reader, they say, “we understand what we are talking about!”). And already in 1902, the American company Hamilton Beach patented the first vibrator for home use as one of the first small electrical appliances. And this was long before the advent of vacuum cleaners and irons!
American housewives became very fond of domestic electric vibrators, so that by 1917 these electrical appliances were found in American homes much more often than toasters. Banana-shaped vibrators were widely advertised in chain catalogs and women’s magazines such as Good Housekeeping. And no one was shocked by this ad. It should be noted that at that time vibrators were produced in bright colors – orange, green or gold. In a few decades, these colors will be used in the modern production of more luxurious erotic gadgets.
After the Second World War, vibrators were safely hidden in deep cabinets and, it would seem, they were forgotten about. However, in 1966, the first wireless vibrator enters the market. And then, in the wake of the feminist movement of the 70s and 80s, he returns to the mass user. By the way, the conservative policy of Ronald Reagan’s government played an important role in the triumphant return of the vibrator. The government’s campaign against AIDS, which began, not only popularized information about how it is transmitted, gave recommendations on the use of condoms, but also suggested the use of vibrators.
The attitude of society towards vibrators as a “goodie” finally changed in the 90s, primarily due to the series “Sex and the City”. In the new century, vibrators have gained immense popularity, and now they are the staple of the sex life of many, many people.
FUN FACTORY is proud to have released the first rechargeable vibrator, the first silicone-coated vibrator and the first rechargeable hybrid toy, taking its rightful place in the colorful 150-year history of the vibrator.