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Willem Einthoven

Willem EinthovenBorn: 21-May-1860
Birthplace: Samarang, Java, Dutch East India
Died: 28-Sep-1927
Location of death: Leiden, Netherlands
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Green Church, Oegstgeest, Netherlands

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist, Doctor

Nationality: Netherlands
Executive summary: Invented the electrocardiograph

In 1903, Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven devised the electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG, from the German elektrokardiograph). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1924.

His machine, first called an Einthoven galvanometer, had a thin metallic wire held between two electromagnets, with the wire connected to electrodes on the patient's chest, and the patient's hands and one foot bathed in salt-water tubs. An electromagnetic field made the wire quiver ever-so-slightly as the heart contracted and relaxed, and using photographic film and shining light on the wire, Einthoven's machine could accurately measure and record the strength and rate of a patient's heartbeat. The machine weighed about 600 pounds, and operating it required a team of five technicians. Present day electrocardiographs are much smaller and more accurate, but the underlying principles remain fundamentally the same.

Father: Jacob Einthoven (physician, d. 1866)
Mother: Louise M. M. C. de Vogel (politician's daughter, d.)
Wife: Frédérique Jeanne Louise de Vogel Einthoven (m. 1886, his cousin, d.)
Daughter: Augusta Einthoven Clevering (b. 1887, d.)
Daughter: Louise Einthoven Terlet (b. 1889, d.)
Son: Willem Einthoven Jr (electrical engineer, b. 1893, d. 1944)
Daughter: Johanna Einthoven (physician, b. 1897, d.)

    High School: Hogere Burgerschool, Utrecht, Netherlands (1878)
    Medical School: MD, University of Utrecht (1885)
    Professor: University of Leiden (1885-1927)

    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1924
    Royal Society 1925


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