Unsealed: The Sex Toy Timeline

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Words || Masumi Atul Parmar

Unsurprisingly, we, as a species have been horny since the dawn of time. I mean, there’s a reason some people just have thirteen children. Those people though hadn’t (unfortunately) been blessed with the power of sex toys. You may think that these are a fairly new line of products so to say but the history of sex toys is more than bursting with facts. Cleopatra employed the use of one even.

28000BC:

  • The earliest known dildo was recently discovered at Hohle Fels Cave in Germany and found to date back to the Paleolithic era. Researchers are not certain whether or not the primary purpose of the object was of the sexual nature but, its high-gloss polish and the fact that other similarly carved stone/bone artifacts have been found among common personal care items seems to suggest it was the kind of object one would use to fulfill some especially wet desires

500BC:

  • The Greek gods were not the only ones getting “their freak on”. The Greeks in 500BC, presumably taking inspiration from their almighty, were on top of it. In an effort to upgrade from hard (not to mention dangerous and uncomfortable) materials like stone, tar and wood, the Greeks developed Olisbokollikes which were essentially dildos baked out of bread—or breadsticks, for a whole new take on “food porn.” They also experimented with using olive oil as lube and covering dildos with a layer of leather or animal intestines to impart a more natural texture—a quality that sex toy manufacturers today continue to strive for.
  • In a similar fashion the Romans took inspiration from their gods and created the double-ended dildo, which was used between partners, friends and even during certain ceremonies.

100BC:

  • This may be a complete rumour, but it is thought that Cleopatra was the mastermind behind the world’s first vibrator. Apparently, the great seductress had her servants fill a hollowed-out gourd with bees and used the angry vibrations they emanated to pleasure herself.

1AD-100AD:

  • A bronze dildo with a ring attached to it was found inside the tomb of an aristocrat in the Chinese city of Yizheng in the Jiangsu province. Judging by the materials and intricate details used when creating this relic, the ancient Chinese considered sex toys an art form.

1200:

  • Chinese nobility believed that wearing cock rings would increase their chance of producing an heir. While many of these were beautiful objects in their own right carved out of jade and ivory, it was fairly common to find them made out of goat eyelid, eyelashes intact included for greater stimulation.

1869:

  • The steam-powered Manipulator is known as the first hand-crank vibrator ever created — years before electricity would truly change the game. American physician George Taylor came up with this unique, utterly frightening design, which consists of a dildo attached to a steam engine that produced vibrations. This device wasn’t created with female orgasm in mind — the goal back in those days was to help alleviate hysteria in women — and, by “hysteria,” they meant sexual frustration, but it would be decades before those actual words would be used. Ultimately though, it was used to procure the female orgasm

1883:

  • The vibrator market began to develop once consumers started to desire their personal machines. Dr. Mortimer Granville patented the first portable, battery-powered vibrator in 1883 and equipped it with an array of vibratodes (a fun word for attachments) to tickle every fancy.

1880:

  • Macaura’s Pulsocon Hand Vibrator was one of the more advanced hand-crank vibrators created in the 1880s and sold throughout the early 1900s. The handheld vibrator was capable of delivering 5,000 vibrations per minute. Of course, it required a lot more effort than modern vibrators. You had to hold one end, place the other on your body, and then manually turn the crank handle. The vibrator was marketed as a DIY cure for illnesses — oh, and of course, to combat female hysteria.

1900:

  • It didn’t take long for people to start to improve upon the latest model by Pulsocon and create the next-generation vibrator: the Blood Circulator. Similar to the original, this was a hand-crank vibrator with a little something extra: The vibrator, which you would place directly on your body, featured applicators that would screw into the center the device so that you could manually increase the vibrations and have more control over how powerful a vibration you wanted on your body.

1940:

  • The Oster Stim-U-Lax for Barbers was a vibrating device you strapped onto the back of your hand to deliver powerful sensations wherever it was placed. Sure, it was marketed for barbers to use on their customers’ scalps, but other people caught on to its other benefits pretty early on and it took off as a hush-hush sex toy. Babeland’s Vintage Vibrator Museum includes as an example of a multipurpose vibrator that delivered “forceful vibrations … down through the fingers, and onto the scalp — or other body part.”

1970:

  • The Hitachi Magic Wand was a beloved little gadget from Japan that became known as the “Cadillac of Vibrators.” It was marketed as a massager, but with its long handle and powerful vibrating head, it didn’t take long for people like American sex educator Betty Dodson to publicly sing its praises as a sex toy. (Fun fact: Dodson even used the Hitachi Magic Wand in private masturbation classes to help teach women how to stimulate their clitorises.) The ’70s were the decade when vibrators finally became known as sex aids in the mainstream.

1980 – Current:  

  • In 1983, Japanese sex toy company Vibratex invented a now-iconic sex toy called The Rabbit that boldly went where no other device had gone before: It provided both penetration and clitoral stimulation. There was one problem: Japanese manufacturers were not allowed to make outright sex toys, so they got around this pesky rule by shaping their devices into animal shapes (other companies made toys shaped like beavers, turtles, and kangaroos). The Pearl Rabbit also featured a rotating band of pearls on the shaft that provided additional stimulation. It became insanely popular after Charlotte on Sex and the City famously used it.

I truly hope that this little crash course of sex toys has left you as astounded as your last sex toy escapade did.

CON-FESS UP

I bought a rose quartz dildo to realign my pussy chakra. Spoiler alert: it just realigned my pussy bacteria. I guess I should have read the last grapey issue’s article on sex toy safety…
– Not-So-Deeply Cleansed

I can’t believe I wasted my time fasting so many orgasms. My girlfriend makes me cum twelve times MINIMUM every time we have sex. Men: natural selection is coming for you.
-Convert

For those of you who haven’t tried anal: grow up and let yourself reach galaxy brain.
-Up Yours

I’m so paranoid about losing bladder control after giving birth that I do kegels every day on the Metro to and from uni. I’m not even pregnant! But I can’t stop – I saw this video about this lady who was incontinent for life at twenty two because her muscles went crazy during labour. And I’ll tell you one thing: that will not be me
– My Pelvic Floor Is Thicc

I let my boyfriend cum in my $70 eyelash extensions.
– That’s not lash glue

I’ve kissed three “straight boys” in the last month. I guess I’m now dealing in reverse conversion therapy.
– Take that heteronormative scum