Taking place in the world’s largest economy and in midst of the second industrial revolution, World Expo 1904 St. Louis introduced many new technologies and innovations to the public. One of these innovations was the X-ray machine, a fledgling technology that has revolutionised healthcare.

By the time of Expo 1904, X-ray technology had not even been under development for a decade – it was in 1895 that German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen made the discovery of its uses (for which he was awarded the 1st Nobel Prize of Physics). The technology was later developed in the United States and by the early 20th century, several companies were producing X-Ray apparatuses.

At Expo 1904, the technology was presented to the general public by the Public Health and Marine Hospital Service. The exhibit featured framed X-Ray images, a 16-plate static machine as well as live demonstration of a revolving plate machine. Staff operating the machinery were given alternating days off in order to protect their own health from the X-rays.

In addition to the X-ray machines on display, Expo 1904 also hosted the 5th International Electrical Congress, in which delegates agreed to work towards the standardisation in electrical equipment – including X-ray apparatus. This congress laid the foundations for the establishment in 1906 of the International Electrotechnical Commission.

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