Good Vibrations: The History of the Sex Toy

The storied history of those toys in your nightstand drawer.

The storied history of those toys in your nightstand drawer.

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28,000 B.C.

Paleolithic-era couples keep things exciting with 8-inch siltstone dildos, polished for her pleasure.

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A.D. 500

Japanese women grab life by the ben-wa balls for sexual satisfaction, on their own or with a partner.

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"Getty Images"
1869

Doctors order orgasms to treat female "hysteria." George Taylor, M.D., invents the steam-powered vibrator to relieve women's symptoms.

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"Courtesy of Hamilton Beach"
1902

Blender manufacturer Hamilton Beach makes an electric vibrator, predating the electric iron and vacuum cleaner.

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1920s

Vibrators play naughty bit parts in early stag films. (They're silent movies, so the buzz isn't audible.)

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"Courtesy of Anthony Enterprises"
1966

J.H. Tavel files a patent application for the first cordless vibrator.

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1974

Women's right activist Dell Williams founds Eve's Garden in New York City, billed as the first women-run sex-toy business.

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"Getty Images"
1998

Alabama's Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act makes it the only state to continue criminalizing the sale of sex toys.

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"Getty Images"
2004

Couples can have sex remotely with teledildonics, technology that combines sex toys and software.

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"Getty Images"
2007

Recyclable dildos, solar-powered vibrators, and organic lube make the green movement sexier than ever.

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2011

Sex toys go mainstream when Walmart, Target, and drugstore chains stock vibrators.

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"Courtesy of Crave"
2014

Fashionistas buzz about the Vesper, a sleek silver- or gold-plated necklace that doubles as a vibrator.

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