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This 1850s Medical Device Was Said to Cure Toothache, Gangrene, and Ennui

Many leading scientists of the day vouched for the healing power of electricity

6 min read
Photo: Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images
Shocking Grasp: In the mid-19th century, this electrotherapy machine was popular among patients who decided it was better to be shocked than be in pain.
Photo: Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images

It is easy for us today to look at 19th-century medical devices as nothing more than quackery, the ineffective tools of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices. But the actual history is a bit more complicated.

In the 1850s, leading scientists and medical professionals endorsed Davis & Kidder’s Patent Magneto-Electric Machine for Nervous Diseases [above], and the ubiquity of the devices in museum collections is a testament to their popularity. So was it quackery or a pioneering innovation?

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The Godfather of South Korea’s Chip Industry

How Kim Choong-Ki helped the nation become a semiconductor superpower

15 min read
A man in a dark suit, bald with some grey hair, leans against a shiny blue wall, in which he is reflected.

Kim Choong-Ki, now an emeritus professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was the first professor in South Korea to systematically teach semiconductor engineering.

Korea Academy of Science and Technology
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They were called “Kim’s Mafia.” Kim Choong-Ki himself wouldn’t have put it that way. But it was true what semiconductor engineers in South Korea whispered about his former students: They were everywhere.

Starting in the mid-1980s, as chip manufacturing in the country accelerated, engineers who had studied under Kim at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) assumed top posts in the industry as well as coveted positions teaching or researching semiconductors at universities and government institutes. By the beginning of the 21st century, South Korea had become a dominant power in the global semiconductor market, meeting more than 60 percent of international demand for memory chips alone. Around the world, many of Kim’s protégés were lauded for their brilliant success in transforming the economy of a nation that had just started assembling radio sets in 1959 and was fabricating outdated memory chips in the early ’80s.

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