X-ray machine

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL is pleased to announce the addition of a WWII X-Ray Machine to its already 125,000 pieces of authentic memorabilia.  The x-ray machine was used beyond WWII and into the Korean War.  This unique item can be found in the museum’s MASH Diorama in the Korean War Gallery.


X-Rays Are Introduced to the Military

Roentgen type rays were first discovered by German physicist - Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen - in 1895.  The discovery, which would eventually earn him a Nobel Prize, occurred while he was working at the University of Wurzburg.  It wasn’t long after the discovery, their power of penetrating solids and other opaque materials became evident.  During the period between WWI and WWII, the US Army began investigating ways they could take advantage of the ability of these rays.   

In the late 1930s, the Picker X-Ray Corporation, who had been investing the potential of this technology in the medical field, approached the U.S. Army about an x-ray machine that could be developed for use in the field or in remote hospitals.  The company became a pioneer in the development as well as the manufacturing of x-ray equipment for the United States Army and was their sole provider during WWII.


 Harvey Picker first contacted the Surgeon General soon after the war broke out, but prior to the US becoming involved.  At that time, he offered the service of the company to provide – without cost – X-Ray units to the military should the US become enter the war.  Once the US was involved, the demand for the machines was incredible. 

With the monies pouring in, James Picker became distressed as he did not want to “make a profit on men dying”.  Both the American industry and the general public were astonished when – on three different occasions between 1942 to 1951 – Picker gave a total of $4 million back to the US Government. 


Overall, it is estimated that more x-ray machines were produced by Picker during WWII than everywhere else in the world for that same period.  Their solid product and good reputation contributed to their greatly expanded sales and demand during World War II.