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History of Stun Guns

We would not be surprised if the first "stun gun" was somebody's finger. You know, something along the lines of the popular past time today of rubbing your feet quickly on a carpet to build up static electricity and then touching someone lightly on their earlobe to watch them jump! It is the exact same principle.

 

We do know that in the mid-1700's, Petrus Musschenbroek, from Leiden, Netherlands developed what was known as the "Leyden jar". This device stored static electricity by separating differently charged ions. It works like a capacitor in that it stored a built-up electrical charge and then released it quickly. A large wool pad was spun quickly on a glass globe to store a charge inside a connected Leyden jar. You had to be careful when handling the jar. Apparently Musschenbroek found this out for himself when he wrote, "Suddenly I received in my right hand a shock of such violence that my whole body was shaken as by a lightning stroke & the arm and body were affected in a manner more terrible than I can express. In a word, I believed that I was done for."  Musschenbroek had just received a really strong electrical shock created purely through static electricity.

Musschenbroek's discovery led to the first crudely designed stun guns. In a series of experiments that started about 1780, Luigi Galvani, at the University of Bologna in Italy, found that the electric current delivered by a Leyden jar or a rotating static electricity generator would cause the contraction of muscles in the legs of dead frogs and other animals when applied to the muscle or to the nerve.

After the first batteries were developed in the late 1800's an inventor by the name of John Burton from Wichita, Kansas applied for and received a patent for his "Electric Prod Pole", or in other words, an "electric cattle prod". Burton's reason for developing this was to help direct cattle without damaging their hides.

cattle prod

The design was very basic but it got the job done. It consisted of a battery, a coil of wound wire, and two positive and negative prongs. The coil stepped up the voltage enough so that the current could flow through an animal's hide and cause a localized shock. In the ensuing decades another patent was issued for a similar battery operated design that provided a new method to hold the end-cap on and also added an important safety feature, an on/off switch.

In 1936 the January issue of Modern Mechanix carried a story about "a new instrument designed to facilitate driving livestock up the loading chute".

In 1950 the electric cattle prod advanced to this - "Cattle Prod c 1950, With the advent of chutes, some cowboys turned in their lariats or lassos for cattle prods. This battery operated prod helped give cattle the incentive to move up through the chute."

cattle prod

In this video you can see how far Electric Cattle Prods have advanced to today;

cattle prod 

Now you know that with all those cowboys, using all those electric cattle prods, some time, around some camp fire, they started using the cattle prod on each other as a joke. It didn't take too long for someone to notice, "Hey, these big old tough cowboys are afraid of getting zapped with the cattle prod. Hmmm, if there was some way I could make it smaller...."

 

Introducing, the first real Stun Gun (sort of)! red arrow