A look at the history of metal detectors.
The first metal detector was made by Gustave Trouvé, a French electrical engineer, in 1874. He made it to find and remove bullets or other metal objects from people. Alexander Graham Bell tried to make a metal detector like Trouvé’s device in 1881, after United States President James Garfield was shot. Bell tried to find the bullet inside President Garfield using his device. Bell’s metal detector worked, but the metal coils of James Garfield’s bed confused the detector, and the attempt to find the bullet was not successful.
Metal detectors were very useful as land mine detectors in World War II. A Polish Army engineer, Lieutenant Józef Kosacki, made the first portable metal detector in 1941. Poland was occupied by Nazi forces, and Lieutenant Kosacki was stationed in Scotland at the time. His design had a long wand and dish, like modern portable detectors, but it needed a large and heavy backpack for the electronics. Hundreds of thousands of land mine detectors based on his design were used by the Allies during World War II.
- Gerhard Fisher applied for the first metal detector patent in 1925. He was working on a system for navigation using radio waves, but found that the results were thrown off when his device was near rocks that contained a lot of metal. He realized he could use this to make a metal detector, and applied for the patent.
- Metal detectors are used in archaeology to find metal artifacts. The first recorded use was by a military historian in 1958. Don Rickey used a metal detector to map the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
- The first use of metal detectors at airports was in the United States, in 1972. A company in Finland, Outokumpu, made the first walk-though security detectors.