Research adventure
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

"Coffee mill" programming device


The "coffee mill" on display in the "Abenteuer Forschung" (Adventure of Science) exhibition at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) has an amusing nickname. Actually, however, the device is a milestone in medical history: it is the first programming device for pacemakers which can be used for changing the pacemaker's energy emission from outside the body.

The exhibition provides information about the fascinating world of the pacemaker, which began with the sensational discovery that a heart which has ceased to beat can, under certain circumstances, be revived by means of a simple pinprick. The exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to view the world's first pacemaker - a device weighing several kilograms - as well as the tiny, modern devices which are implanted into the body nowadays.

One of the main challenges in the development of pacemakers was to adapt their impulse emissions to the respective cardiac performance of the patients with the heart condition. This performance varies, as the heart needs to beat faster during physical exertion. This, however, is only possible if the impulses of the pacemaker are adapted to the respective requirements of the moment. This is not easily implementable for devices which are located inside the body. Only in the early 1970s did the "coffee mill" bring the solution: it was placed directly onto the implanted pacemaker - but outside the body. The winder could be used for increasing or decreasing the energy emissions. This invention was the first step leading to the modern-day technology, which automatically adapts its performance to the respective requirements, thereby enabling a normal life for the patients concerned.

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