Cathodagraph (terminology)

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 2 Aug 2021

Cathodagraph (or cathodagram) is an obsolete term for a radiograph.

In the earliest days of radiology there was no consensus on the term to be used for the images resulting from exposure to x-rays. Terms used included skiagraph, cathodagraph, roentgenograph, x-ray, x-ray photograph, radiogram, and, of course, radiograph

The following poem, published in Life magazine in 1896, is one of the earliest examples of poetry about x-rays and includes the term cathodagraph.

LINES ON AN X-RAY PORTRAIT OF A LADY

She is so tall, so slender, and her bones
Those frail phosphates, those carbonates of lime
Are well produced by cathode rays sublime,
By oscillations, amperes and by ohms
Her dorsal vertebrae are not concealed
By epidermis, but are well revealed
Around her ribs, those beauteous twenty-four,
Her flesh a halo makes, misty in line,
Her noseless, eyeless face looks into mine,
And I but whisper, "Sweetheart, Je t'adore,"
Her white and gleaming teeth at me do laugh.
Ah! Lovely, cruel, sweet cathodagraph!

Lawrence K Russel – Life, 27th March 1896 1

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