There are many sources of information about the history of radiology. Books of course but also websites, videos and many others. There are references to them throughout the website. However, for completeness we have brought  a number of key resources together here. If you are able to add to it we would be very  pleased to  hear from you.




Radiology museums in Europe


Opole Museum of X-ray Tubes

Includes virtual tour of museum


Science Museum, London

Major collection of science and engineering artifacts with medical section. Some radiology items. Extensive stores available for private viewing by serious researchers.

Thackray Medical Museum, Leeds

Collection of artifacts and archives relating to many aspects of the history of medicine. Fascinating but little on radiology.


American Society of Radiologic Technologists

The ASRT Museum and Archives is located inside the ASRT office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Through interactive displays and educational exhibits, the museum traces the progress of medical imaging and radiation therapy professionals from the discovery of the x-ray to today.


German Roentgen Museum, Remscheid

Roentgen Memorial, Wurzburg


Belgian Museum of Radiology, Brussels




Wellcome Library, London

Major library holding books and journals relating to all aspects of medicine and public health. Free access with reader’s ticket available to all.



Museum of Historical Medical Artifacts

History of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists

ISHRAD Archive

Oak Ridge Health Physics Instrument Collecti










Early x-ray tubes worked because vacuums were not good.  The ions of residual gas atoms colliding with the cathode caused a shower of electrons and these were attracted to the anode causing the generations of x-rays. With use the gas was absorbed in the tube wall and the x-rays reduced in intensity and became harder. It was necessary to introduce more gas if the tube was to stay useful and several devices (regulators) were invented to do this. Even so gas tubes were erratic in operation and they were superseded by tubes where electrons were generated by a heated filament. These thermionic tubes – invented by William Coolidge in 1913 –  were much more reliable and more powerful. They slowly took over, dominating the field after the early 1930s.






The History of Radiology, Adrian Thomas and Arpan Banerjee 

W The Hooded Anode, Zahi Hakim  IL27 p12 (S)

W Hakim’s website with images and pdf guide to contents

W A brief history of the x-ray tube, Adrian Thomas IL15 p36 


>> Technology








Computed tomography scanning is a means by which the inside of the body can be imaged using a rotating x-ray machine which takes images from different angles around the body on a detector and by using powerful computer processing enables the production of images from the acquired data for diagnostic purposes. It is often considered as important a discovery as that of X-rays by Rontgen in that CT has revolutionised current medical practice worldwide. 

Allan Cormack  a South African physicist and Godfrey Hounsfield a British engineer are credited with this discovery with Hounsfield developing the scanner at EMI and producing the first clinical images of an axial section of the brain of a patient with Dr Ambrose a consultant neuroradiologist at Atkinson Morley Hospital in London in 1971. 

Hounsfield and Cormack were to share the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1979 for their part in the discovery. In the mid 70s the CT scanner began to be used to image the body in cross-section.

Kalender in the late 1980s made advances with the technique by discovering  spiral volumetric CT scanning which would enable the CT scans to be done faster and would enable 3-D images to be obtained.




B THOMAS AMK  BANERJEE AK BUSCH U Classic Papers in Modern Diagnostic Radiology  Springer Verlag, Berlin, NY.  2005    ISBN 3540219277

B THOMAS A M K   BANERJEE  AK  The  History of Radiology OUP May 2013 

CT (Computed Tomography) Scans - A Level Physics,  Dr PhysicsA

A basic description of the mechanism of CT (computed tomography) scans for medical use in remote sensing. Part of the A Level Physics revision series.

W CT Scan


GE LightSpeed CT scanner at Open House, Monroeville, Pennsylvania

CC, daveynin




 Much has changed since Rontgen's early x-rays but much has not. For plain x-rays (the usual kind) the body is still placed between an x-ray tube and a detector and there is a shadowy image to interpret.  The tubes that produce the x-rays have become more reliable and more powerful. The detectors have (but  only fairly recently and not completely) moved on from plates and films to digital media. Fluoroscopy  has developed from the hooded luminescent screen to make use of the image intensifier and other advances.

Stereo x-rays allowed a crude 3-D view of the internal organs of the body but there was a dramatic change with the invention of the CT scanner. This provided extraordinarily detailed 3-D views of the internals of the body.

Other quite different techniques, not dependent on x-rays, delivered equally astonishing and useful images.