There is a lot to talk about the metal detector history, a simple looking device that you are using today. A lot of people are finding it very interesting and amusing. There is a bunch of things that you don’t know about these devices. If you are one of the people that are using one of them every day or at least you own one, then you must know the full history of them. Let’s start from the beginning when the first one appeared.

First Metal Detector

Somewhere around the mid-1800s, shortly after the electricity has been invented, scientists from around the world have teamed up with some gold miners that had the idea to create a tool that will be able to locate metal deep underground. Everyone liked that idea. Therefore they started working on it. A machine like that would be incredibly helpful to many people that are dedicating their entire lives to searching for gold.

Unfortunately, the first detector that was made had nothing to do with locating gold; it was made for the attempt to save President James Garfield when he was shot in the back. The doctors couldn’t find the bullet, and the President continued to suffer. Then one of his visitors named Alexander Graham Bell created the first metal detector to help doctors determine the bullet and save the President. However, the attempts were unsuccessful because the springs in the bed have confused the detector and it was basically useless.

gustave trouvé

Gustave Trouvé

First Prototype

Although the first detector was not specially made for gold searching, it was a good and quality device, and because of that, it became the prototype for all the other metal detectors that were built after that. In the first few years, these devices were massive, complicated to use and were using vacuum tubes to run. However, because they were useful, people continued to use them, and in no time they became trendy. Even the military was using them to find landmines and bombs that are buried underground all across Europe after the WW2.

The metal detector history is quite long, but we will try to explain everything.The first breakthrough in these devices was when a man named Gerhard Fisher discovered that radio beams are getting distorted when close to some rocks. Then he came up with the idea that this technology might work well as a metal detector. He successfully created the first portable detector and gained a patent for his discovery that changed the entire history of this unique device.

Perfecting the Metal Detectors

After that major upgrade that metal detectors got, a lot more people started using them as a hobby because they were portable. One of those people that were using one out of hobby was Charles Garrett who perfected them even more and made them far better by eliminating oscillator drifts. That upgrade, as well as few smaller ones, has revolutionized the design of the detectors in that time. From that point on, a lot of people have made some kind of adjustment to this unique device that further improved their efficiency.

Small things like transistors, new coil designs were making a huge difference by transforming them. As time went on, they have become more and more compact, which was a big plus because they were very light weight and people could carry them around without any effort.

modern metal detectors

“Modern Metal Detectors”
by Charles Garrett

After the 1980s, the technology started to advance very fast, and scientists were making and finding new ways to build and upgrade various devices. From that point forward, the future of them was set because they were used by many professionals as well as amateur people that used the new far more advanced technology. Metal detectors never stopped developing and changing because there was always something to be added to them. All those people that made even the smallest change to this device are the reason why they are such a great piece of equipment. Of course, people are still searching for new and innovative ways to upgrade and improve these devices.

Benefits of Using Metal Detector

They are used for various things, usually, when you hear metal detector history, you probably think of some people that are searching for treasures on the beach. However, that is not the only thing they are used for; there are far better things you can use it for.


One of the most common uses of metal detectors is for security measures. If you ever took a plane somewhere, then you know what we are talking about. In airports, security is definitely the number one priority because they are working with a big number of people and they are responsible for their safety. The safest way to make sure that nobody brings anything harmful on to a plane, such as knives, guns or even bombs is to scan each person individually with a detector before they enter the plane. These devices that are used for security measures are much smaller, and they are not nearly powerful as the ones that are made for treasure searching. That is because these metal detectors don’t need to search metals deep underground.


Throughout the history they have been used for various things, in the first few years of discovery people were obsessed with finding hidden or lost treasures underground. Nowadays, that has changed a lot because there are not that many people that still use these detectors to find treasure. As mentioned before, they are mostly used as a security measure or in medicine for some surgical procedures when doctors need to locate a metal piece.


The detectors have saved many lives throughout the history, unfortunately, the first one that was made didn’t have that much success, but that is because people didn’t realize that the bed was distracting the detector. Nowadays, people are highly educated about these devices, and they know exactly how they work. We sincerely hope that metal detectors will never stop improving because we need a technology like this in our lives because they have a great potential in saving human lives.