A Concise History of the ECG
The history of the ECG goes back more than one and a half century
In 1843 Emil Du Bois-Reymond, a german physiologist, was the first to describe "action potentials" of muscular contraction. He used a highly sensitive galvanometer, which contained more than 5 km of wire. Du Bios Reymond named the different waves: "o" was the stable equilibrium and he was the first to use the p, q, r and s to describe the different waves.  However, in his excellent paper on the 'Naming of the waves in the ECG' Dr Hurst credits Einthoven for being the first to use PQRS and T.
In 1850 M. Hoffa described how he could induce irregular contractions of the ventricles of doghearts by administering electrical shock. 
In 1885 Chauveau was the first to describe complete heart block in a horse while observing ventricular beats without movement of the atrial auricles.
The dutchman Willem Einthoven (1860-1927) introduced in 1893 the term 'electrocardiogram'. He described in 1895 how he used a galvanometer to visualize the electrical activity of the heart. In 1924 he received the Nobelprize for his work on the ECG. He connected electrodes to a patienta showed the electrical difference between two electrodes on the galvanometer. We still now use the term: Einthovens'leads. The string galvanometer (see Image) was the first clinical instrument on the recording of an ECG.
In 1905 Einthoven recorded the first 'telecardiogram' from the hospital to his laboratoy 1.5 km away.
In 1906 Einthoven published the first article in which he described a series of abnormal ECGs: left- and right bundlebranchblock, left- and right atrialdilatation, the U wave, notching of the QRS complex, ventricular extrasystoles, bigemini, atrialflutter and total AV block. 
Du Bois-Reymond, E. Untersuchungen über thierische Elektricität. Reimer, Berlin: 1848.
- Hurst JW. Naming of the waves in the ECG, with a brief account of their genesis. Circulation. 1998 Nov 3;98(18):1937-42. DOI:10.1161/01.cir.98.18.1937 |
Hoffa M, Ludwig C. 1850. Einige neue versuche uber herzbewegung. Zeitschrift Rationelle Medizin, 9: 107-144
Waller AD. A demonstration on man of electromotive changes accompanying the heart's beat. J Physiol (London) 1887;8:229-234
Waller AD. Introductory Address on The Electromotive Properties of the Human Heart. Brit. Med J, 1888;2:751-754
Einthoven W. Le telecardiogramme. Arch Int de Physiol 1906;4:132-164
Chauveau MA. De La Dissociation Du Rythme Auriculaire et du Rythme Ventriculaire. Rev. de Méd. Tome V. - Mars 1885: 161-173.
Einthoven W. Über die Form des menschlichen Electrocardiogramms. Pfügers Archiv maart 1895, pagina 101-123
Marey EJ. Des variations electriques des muscles et du couer en particulier etudies au moyen de l'electrometre de M Lippman. Compres Rendus Hebdomadaires des Seances de l'Acadamie des sciences 1876;82:975-977
- Márquez MF, Colín L, Guevara M, Iturralde P, and Hermosillo AG. Common electrocardiographic artifacts mimicking arrhythmias in ambulatory monitoring. Am Heart J. 2002 Aug;144(2):187-97.