Wilhelm Roentgen was the first scientist to discover by mistake what we call today X rays, in 1895. He coated a sheet of paper with barium platinocyanide, and accidentally made it glow with a cathode ray tube. This technology was used later to see through tissue, setting the foundation stone of modern medical imaging technologies, thus eliminating unnecessary surgeries. He eventually receiver the Nobel prize for the X-rays discovery in 1901.
During the Second World War, biomedical engineering was at its infant stage. Radar technology was developed by scientists, thus the need for interdisciplinary study with the engineering technology. Electrical engineering caught the attention of doctors and biologists, and this is how the first bioengineers and biomedical engineers specialisations emerged. British scientist Heinz Wollf first used the term biological engineering, in 1954.
Further on, a few milestones in the development of what is today medical and biological engineering:
1903 – William Eindhoven created the process to record the electrical activity of the human hearts, called EKG.
1929 – The first electroencephalogram, called EEG, recorded the electrical impulse from the brain. The inventor was Hans Berger.
1930 – Most organs from the human body can be seen with the help of X-rays.
1930 – Penicillin, antibiotics and sulfanilamide reduce the number of deaths from infections.
1943 – The International Society of Bio Engineering is established.
1948 – In the United States is organised the first conference of Medical and Biological Engineering.
1967 – The first program in biological engineering in the United States was conceived at Mississippi State University.
1970 – Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI imagines the anatomy of healthy and sick cells. CT scan, or computer tomography, creates virtual slices images of the human brain with the help of combined x-rays images.
Today, more than 32000 bio engineers and biomedical engineers are active around the world and are improving the health care technology.