Portable Electrocardiograph (ECG)

IHPST

Accession Number: 2019.ihpst.105

Description:

A cube-like wooden housing with a hinged lid secured with a latch. A gold-coloured plate on the upper portion of the front face has information about the maker and purchaser embossed in black lettering. A plastic handle is attached to the top centre of the lid. Two sockets are located in a black-coloured recess at the centre of the right-side face.

Opening the instrument reveals a black panel with switches and dials. To the left side of this panel, there is a mechanism containing the electrical mechanism actuating inked pens, as well as a roll of the paper chart. In the bottom surface of the top lid, there is an enclosure containing an electrical lead and a cylindrical metal component. To the right of the electrical mechanism, there is a cavity within which is a black metal container. The container holds a small paper package containing three extra fuses.

Alternative Name:

Cambridge Electrocardiograph, Model No. 2

Primary Materials: Wood, Metal, Plastic.

Markings:

The metal plate on the front on the instrument reads:
“SIMPLI-SCRIBE” PORTABLE MODEL// CAMBRIDGE ELECTROCARDIOGRAPH// NO. 0-216814// MADE FOR// BERNARD S. LEIBEL. M. D.// 200 ST. CLAIR AVENUE WEST.// TORONTO. ONTARIO.// BY THE// CAMBRIDGE INSTRUMENT CO. INC.”

Lettering printed on the control panel reads:
“CAMBRIDGE INSTRUMENT CO. INC.// OSSINING, N. Y.// NO. B.M. 17850[ the last digits of this number is missing]// MODEL NO. 2”

Dimensions (cm): Height = 31, Width = 27, Length = 26.

Function:

An electrocardiograph (ECG) produces a graph of the electrical signals of the heart. It is used to diagnose heart illnesses.

Condition:

Very good: The finish on the outer wooden surface is damaged and delaminating. There is superficial corrosion on various metal surfaces. The plastic material of the dials and switches is slightly corroded.

Manufacturer:

Cambridge Instrument Co. Inc., Ossining, N. Y.

Date of Manufacture: c. 1950s

Provenance:

This instrument was donated to the IHPST by Dr. Brian Sevitt, a Toronto cardiologist, on June 14, 2019.

Dr. Sevitt acquired this artifact when he was a chief resident at Mount Sinai hospital in 1976. He was then part of a team working on the first closed-loop artificial pancreas. It was given to him by Dr. Bernard Leibel (1914-1995), a biomedical engineer who headed the team when he decided to leave the project to enter private practice.

Historical Notes:

Dr. Bernard Leibel and Dr. Michael Albisser led the development of the first closed-loop artificial pancreas (insulin pump).

A brief account of this research may be found here:

Poulton, Terry, “Diabetes: there may be life beyond the needle.Maclean’s Magazine, March 6, 1978. (Maclean’s online archive, accessed June 17, 2019).

  • Donated to UTSIC