Willem Einthoven (1860-1927)
Einthoven commenced his study of medicine at Utrecht University on a scholarship obliging him to work in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) where he had lived up to the age of ten. His academic achievements however attracted attention. He first studied the elbow and obtained a PhD with distinction for his dissertation on stereoscopy through colour differences. Immediately following his dissertation he was appointed professor in physiology at Leiden University (the Netherlands).
His work varied from respiration to the eye and the heart, combining physics and physiology. In 1924 he became the first Dutch Nobel Prize winner in medicine. He received the Prize for the development of the string galvanometer and his research into what this meter records: the electrocardiogram. His galvanometer used a wire instead of a coil making the instrument more precise and faster than previous instruments.
Einthoven was a very inventive physicist, an excellent organiser and a sound planner. His greatest disappointment was that no one was willing to produce his string galvanometer. One of the companies he had approached developed its own version, but the string would break easily. This inferior instrument has for a number of years, obstructed the medical applications of the electrocardiography.