Good Vibrations: The History of the Sex Toy

The storied history of those toys in your nightstand drawer.

Beige, Natural material,

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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Metal, Brass, Beige, Circle, Material property, Natural material, Earrings, Bronze, Household hardware, Body jewelry,
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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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Space, Darkness, Chemical compound, Smoke, Freezing,
"Getty Images"
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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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Hairstyle, Chin, Forehead, Eyebrow, Style, Jaw, String instrument, Monochrome photography, Portrait, Black-and-white,
"Courtesy of Hamilton Beach"
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1902

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

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Technology, Computer accessory, Computer hardware, Office equipment, Laptop part, Personal computer hardware, Majorelle blue, Electric blue, Output device, Gadget,
"Getty Images"
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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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Nose, Lip, Finger, Hairstyle, Chin, Forehead, Eyebrow, Text, Happy, Facial expression,
"Courtesy of Anthony Enterprises"
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1966

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

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Human, Finger, Shoulder, Human leg, Joint, Standing, Chest, Barechested, Elbow, Abdomen,
"Getty Images"
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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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Blue, Atmosphere, White, Line, Azure, Black, World, Aqua, Grey, Map,
"Getty Images"
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1998

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

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Human leg, Electronic device, Laptop part, Elbow, Barefoot, Thigh, Knee, Sitting, Waist, Laptop,
"Getty Images"
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2004

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

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Green, Khaki, Symbol, Graphics, Illustration, Drawing,
"Getty Images"
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2007

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

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Product, Line, Shopping cart, Parallel, Rolling, Coquelicot, Steel, Silver, Cleanliness, Aluminium,
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2011

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

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Amber, Tan, Bridal accessory, Body jewelry, Metal, Jewellery, Beige, Ivory, Natural material, Gold,
"Courtesy of Crave"
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2014

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

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