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E.E.G Machine

Health Sciences · IHPST

Two separate related objects.

2015.ihpst.31.1 The object consists of a wooden box containing a tangle of thick black wires, a roll of brown paper mounted on a stand, two unknown parts that are not attached (one circular and white with a silver coated ring and the other rectangular spool of long brown strands). Also inside are two silver boxes mounted on the side of the box.

The roll of paper is threaded through a slot to the equipment on top of the box. Sitting on top of the box is three smaller boxes open on two sides. Each box contains a wire coil mounted horizontally and insulated by black electrical tape.

Each box has a plate attached which in turn is attached to a narrow needle pen. The tips of the pens rest on the emerging roll of paper. Each pen has its own small silver cylindrical ink pot.

Underneath the paper on the top of the box is an open box containing some gears for rotating the paper.

At the front of the box top is a row of four brass-coloured switches. Beside the switches is a dark metal horizontally-mounted switch. Beside these switches is a piece of tape stuck on to the top of the box reading “on” and “off”.

Accession Number: 2015.ihpst.31.1-2

Alternative Name:

Electroencephalograph, Electroencephalogram, EEG Machine

Primary Materials: Wood, Metal, Paper, Rubber


On top of the box, handwritten on a piece of fabric tape: ON and OFF

On the front side of the box; A small black and gold sticker that says Department of Physiology, University of Toronto.

Inside of the box, on the metal cubes: C .6 .25 Cornell-Dubilier HG-3822, 400V DC, AR, .5 (?) .1

C 0.2 Cornell-Dubilier HG-3822, 400V DC, AR, .0, .1

Dimensions (cm):

Length = 41.3 Width = 34.5 Height = 31.5


Instrument designed to take readings of the electrical activity of the brain. Three separate readings are recorded by needle movement (via oscillograph) on the roll of continuously moving paper.


Object has signs of wear and tear. Object appears largely intact but is worn and well used, with dirt, corrosion. Rubber wiring is cracked.

On the top, one of the needle-moving oscillographs (of an original four) appears to have been removed. There is space for another oscillograph coil and needle.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: John E. Goodwin

Date of Manufacture: c. 1938


This EEG machine was likely built at the Banting Institute by John E. Goodwin in the late 1930s. It was transferred to U of T’s History of Medicine Museum in 1969, shortly after Goodwin’s retirement. When this museum was dismantled, some items went to the Museum of Healthcare in Kingston. Others went to the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa. This item appears to have been left behind.

Additional Information and References:

This object appears to have been manufactured in a local university workshop.

From 1936, John Goodwin, who had an engineering background, was a technical research assistant at the Banting Institute. Over the next few years, he became closely involved with the construction of the earliest EEG machines at the Institute and is named in the U of T Report to the Board of Governors of 1938 as the constructor of a similar Instrument:

“Mr. J. Goodwin, Mr. D. Lloyd and Dr. Hall have studied the changes in the bio-electric potentials as recorded from the exposed area striata of the cortex during similarly produced shock. These potentials were recorded on the electro-encephalogram which has been constructed in this Department by Mr. Goodwin.

Mr. J. E. Goodwin and Dr. H. H. Hyland (of the Department of Medicine) are continuing their electroencephalographic studies of epileptic and other neurological cases from the Toronto General Hospital.”

A description of the instrument used in a 1939 <a href=”″>published paper</a> reports a machine that records “four areas at once”, as this one did before the removal of one of its oscillographs.

This work was interrupted by the Second World War. During the war, John Goodwin became one of those working, alongside Frederick Banting and some of his colleagues on the EEG machine projects, on Aviation Medicine–specifically noise and noise reduction for pilots (Canadian Research in Aviation Medicine by C.B. Stewart in the Nova Scotia Medical Bulletin, April 1947 vol. XXVI No. 4, pg 90). He returned to U of T’s Department of Physiological Hygiene in 1947, where he worked until his retirement in 1966 (U of T President’s Year End Report, 1966).

<a href=”″>Clinical Applications of Encephalography</a>, Canadian Medical Association Journal. September 14th, 1939.

Historical Notes: