Crude as it was, credit for the first artificial pacemaker goes to Dr Mark C Lidwill, an anaesthesiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Edgar Booth, a physicist from Sydney University.
In 1926, the pair designed a portable and user-friendly device that plugged into a lighting point and consisted of two poles. According to Sydney University, one pole was applied to a skin pad soaked with strong salt solution. The other pole consisted of a needle insulated except at its point that was plunged into the appropriate cardiac chamber. Ouch. The pacemaker rate was variable between 80 and 120 pulses per minute, with voltage varying from 1.5 to 120 volts.
While it sounds nightmarish by today’s standards, it was reportedly used for 10 minutes on a stillborn infant in 1928, prompting a recovery.