Table 1

The development of the stethoscope

DateInventorDevelopment
1816LaennecRolled paper cone, later a wooden tube
1828PriorryFunnel shaped bell, a lightened stem, and thinner earpiece for a better seal
1843WilliamsThe first binaural stethoscope, using lead pipes for earpieces
1851MarshStethoscope chestpiece was fitted with a flexible membrane
1855CammannBinaural stethoscope with flexible tubing
1894BianchiFirst stethoscope with a rigid diaphragm, known as a “phonendoscope”
1925Bowles and SpragueCombination of bell and a rigid diaphragm chestpiece as used today
1945–46Rappaport, Sprague, and GroomExperimented with various designs to determine ideal properties for the modern binaural stethoscope—for example, a combination chestpiece, short tubing with low internal volume and well fitting earpieces8–10
1956 onwardsVarious (for example, Leatham, Littman, etc)Various modern stethoscopes have been developed with improvements to weight and appearance but using the same principles described by Rappaport, Sprague, and Groom