This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

He Put the “X” in X-Rays

This Day in Tech History


November 8, 1895: Röntgen Stumbles Upon X-Rays

On this day in 1895 German Physics Professor Wilhelm Röntgen stumbles upon what he would later describe as “X-rays” while experimenting with electrical discharge tubes.

In early November, Röntgen was repeating an experiment with one of Lenard’s tubes when he observed that the invisible cathode rays caused a fluorescent effect on a small cardboard screen painted with barium platinocyanide.


In the late afternoon of November 8th he carefully constructed a black cardboard covering and darkened the room to test the opacity of his cardboard cover. As he passed the Ruhmkorff coil charge through the tube, he determined that the cover was light-tight and turned to prepare the next step of the experiment. It was at this point that he noticed a faint shimmering from a bench a few feet away from the tube. Striking a match, he discovered the shimmering had come from the…

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