Willem Einthoven--the man. The string galvanometer electrocardiograph

Arch Intern Med. 1988 Feb;148(2):453-5. doi: 10.1001/archinte.148.2.453.


Despite the universal use of the electrocardiogram for cardiac evaluation, surprisingly few physicians are aware of the individual, Willem Einthoven, who in 1901 reported and in 1924 received the Nobel Prize for the development of the string galvanometer electrocardiograph. Following the development of this comparatively simple device, there has been a succession of increasingly, electrically exotic, electrocardiographs, none of which surpass the original Einthoven instrument in recording accuracy. The resolution of mechanical problems in the laboratory, incident to development of the Einthoven instrument, is of interest in view of the primitive laboratory equipment available during the period the device was developed. Einthoven's preference for funds for additional laboratory assistants and equipment, in lieu of a new laboratory building as a monument to his name and his subsequent disposal of half of the Nobel Prize money, reveal the basic character of this great man, rightfully called the Father of Electrocardiography.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Electrocardiography / history*
  • Electrocardiography / instrumentation
  • Electrophysiology / history
  • Electrophysiology / instrumentation
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Netherlands
  • Nobel Prize / history

Personal name as subject

  • W Einthoven