In 1995 we celebrated 100 years since the discovery of the modern x-ray. While conducting experiments on a cathode ray tube Professor Wilhelm Roentgen from the University of Wurzburg in Germany on November 8, 1895 noticed some unexplained results. The cathode tube, called a Crookes" tube accelerates electrons in a manner very similar to today's x-ray equipment. He noticed during his experiments that a plate that was covered with barium platinocyanide that was sitting a distance away began to fluoresce, or glow. Not knowing what to call the invisible rays from the Crookes" tube that induced the glowing, he named them x-rays. The "X" standing for the unknown quantity. After this discovery, Professor Roentgen did more experiments to define all the properties of the x-ray. Many of these property names are still in use today.
Professor Roentgen produced the first clinical radiograph on November 8, 1895. The image, which took 30 minutes, was a radiograph of his wife's hand. He reported his findings to the Wurzburg Physic-Medical Society on December 8, 1895. In recognition to his great achievement, Roentgen received the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
Professor Roentgen was not the first to produce x-rays in the laboratory. In 1785, a Welsh mathematician by the name of William Morgan was conducting experiments on electrical discharges in a vacuum. .
On February 20, 1890, Arthur Goodspeed, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and William Jennings, a photographer, accidentally produced shadow .
prints of two coins sitting on top of a photographic plate. After Jennings developed the films the round shadows of the coins appeared. This curious shadowgraph could not be explained and so the plates were filed away. It was not until Roentgen's discovery did the American men know what they had discovered. A number of scientists of the era were conducting experiments with electrical discharges through evacuated glass tubes.