History References

Bishop PJ.  A bibliography of John Hutchinson.  Medical History 1977; 21: 384-396

Braun L. Breathing race into the machine: The surprising career of the spirometer from plantation to genetics. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Carpenter KJ.  Edward Smith (1819-1874).  J Nutr 1991; 121: 1515-1521.

Cherniak V, Mellins RB.  Pediatric Pulmonology: A Developmental History in North America.  Pediatric Research  2004; 55: 514–520.

Comroe JH.  Retrospectoscope: Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity for Carbon Monoxide.  Amer Rev Resp Dis 1975; 111: 225-228

Comroe JH.  Retrospectoscope: Man-Cans.  Amer Rev Resp Dis 1977; 116: 945-950.

Comroe JH.  Retrospectoscope: Man-Cans, conclusion.  Amer Rev Resp Dis 1977; 116: 1091-1099.

Costa N, Automatic Pleasures – The History of the Coin Machine.  D’Aleman Publishing, 2013

Dubois EF, Riddle O.  Francis Gano Benedict 1870-1957.  National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, Published 1958.

Forbes RM,  Nathan Zuntz (October 7, 1847–March 23, 1920). The Journal of Nutrition 1955; 57(1): 1-15.

Fowler WS.  Specific tests in pulmonary function.  Method Med Res 1950, 181-244.

Freedman S.  Assessment of airway obstruction: How the subject developed.  Proc Royal Soc Med 1971; 64: 1229-1232.

Gandevia B.  The Breath of life: An essay on the earliest history of respiration, part II.  The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 1970, June, Volume 16, Number 2, page 57-69

Gibson GJ.  Spirometry: Then and now.  Breathe. 2005; 1(3): 207-216.

Gunga HC, Kirsch KA.  Nathan Zuntz (1847-1920) – A German pioneer in high altitude physiology and aviation medicine.  Aviat Space Environ Med 1995; 66(2): 168-171.

Hastings AB.  Donald Dexter Van Slyke 1883-1971.  National Academy of Science Biographical Memoirs, published 1976.

Hess D. History of Pulmonary Function Testing.  Resp Care 1989; 34(6): 427-442

Hollman W, Prinz JP.  Ergospirometry and its history.  Sports Med 1997; 23(2): 93-105.

Hughes JMB, Bates DV.  Historical review: the carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO) and its membrane (DM) and red cell (theta x Vc) components.  Respir Physiol 2003; 138: 115-142

Hyde RW.  Cowbird research and measuring pulsatile diffusing capacity.  Amer J Respir Crit Care Med 2002; 165: 755-756.

Karamanou M, Androutsos G. Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743–1794) and the birth of respiratory physiology. Thorax 2013; 68: 978-979

Kety SS, Forster RE.  Julius H. Comroe 1911-1984  National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, Volume 79, Published 2001.

Kingesepp PH.  Alfred Fleisch (1892-1973): Professor of physiology at the University of Tartu , Estonia.  J Med Biog 2011; 19(1): 34-37.

Locher WG.  Max von Pettenkofer (1818–1901) as a pioneer of modern hygiene and preventive medicine.  Environ Health Prev Med. Nov 2007; 12(6): 238–245.

Macklem P.  A century of the mechanics of breathing.  Amer J Resp Crit Care Med 2004; 170(1): 10-15.

Macklem P.  Canada’s contribution to respiratory physiology and pathophysiology.  Can Respir J  2007; 14(7): 383-392.

Milic-Emili J, Marranazzini L, D’Angelo E.  150 Years of blowing: Since John Hutchinson.  Can Resp J 1997; 4(5): 239-245.

Mitzner W.  Mechanics of the lung in the 20th Century.  Compr Physiol  2011; 1(4): 2009-2027.

Pappenheimer J.  Hermann Rahn 1912-1990.  National Academy of Science Biographical Memoirs, published 1996.

Petty TL.  John Hutchinson’s mysterious machine.  Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 1987; 98:11-20

Petty TL.  John Hutchinson’s mysterious machine revisited.  Chest 2002; 121(6 Supplement): 219S-223S.

Rosenblatt MB. Emphysema, qauntophrenia and Medical History.  Medical Counterpoint 1969 October, 14-20.

Schmidt-Nielsen K, Per Scholander 1905-1980, Biographical Memoir, National Academy of Sciences, 1987, 387-412.

Sprigge JS.  Sir Humphry Davy: his researches in pulmonary physiology and his debt to Antoine Lavoisier.  Anesthesia 2002; 57: 357-364.

Spriggs EA.  John Hutchinson, the inventor of the spirometer – his north country background, life in London, and scientific achievements.  Medical History 1977; 21: 357-364.

Spriggs EA.  The history of Spirometry.  Br J Dis Chest  1978; 120: 461-469.

Staub NC.  The Amberson lecture: Tell it like it was part 2.  Amer Rev Resp Dis 1987; 136(4): 1018-1024.

Warren P, Warren F.  Window on the breast: 19th century English developments in pulmonary diagnosis.  Lancet 1997; 349: 798-801.

West JB. The birth of clinical body plethysmography: It was a good week.  J Clin Invest  2004: 114(8): 1043-1045

West JB.  History of respiratory gas exchange.  Comprehensive Physiology, Volume 1, Issue 3, July 2011

Yernault JC.  The birth and development of the forced expiratory maneuver: a tribute to Robert Tiffeneau (1910-1961).  Eur Resp J 1997; 10: 2704-2710.

Yernault JC, Pride N, Laszlo G.  How the measurement of Residual Volume developed after Davy (1800).  Eur Respir J 2000 16: 561-564.

Pulmonary Function History Websites:


http://www.webimed.net/geschiedenisspirometrie.html. (Dutch website, Google can translate)


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PFT History by Richard Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

2 thoughts on “History References”

  1. Dear Sir,
    As Editor-in Charge of the RETROSPECTROSCOPE SECTION of IEEE PULSE MAGAZINE, I request permission to reproduce the figure posted in your website http://www.pftforum.com/history/, which shows a spirometer advertised by Barnes in 1875. The figure would be used in a historical paper on cardiac output scheduled to appear later this year. Besides, such spirometer was evidently a predecessor of the Benedict-Roth metabolimeter. Would you have information on the latter? Francis Gano Benedict (1870-1957) and Paul Roth (??-??). Kindly yours, Max Val
    Spirometer, Barnes, 1875, Advertisement

    1. Mr. Valentinuzzi –

      You are welcome to use it. I took it from a turn of the century health magazine that is well out of copyright. I would have to say, however, that I doubt the Barnes spirometer led to the Benedict and Roth spirometers. The big difference is that the Barnes spirometer is a dry spirometer whereas the Benedict-Roth spirometers were all water-seal. Having said that I have not yet been able to find a photograph or diagram of the Barnes spirometer, only the advertisement, so it is not clear to me how it worked.

      Although the original Hutchinson spirometer (counter-weighted water seal bell spirometer) was invented in England it appears that many of the improvements in its design before 1900 occurred in Germany (Wintrich, Boruttau). My understanding is that FG Benedict traveled extensively and was well aware of the physiology research occurring in Germany so my guess is that he based his spirometer on German designs. I would also suggest that early on he partnered with WE Collins (who was soon to start the Warren E Collins company that built spirometers and other pulmonary function equipment). There is a joint paper (Benedict and Collins) in the 1920 Boston Medical and Surgical journal (later to become the New England Journal of Medicine, and no, unfortunately I have not been able to find a copy of the paper only references to it). Also, don’t overlook the contributions that Sanborn made. He was working in Boston at the same time as Benedict and Collins and also produced a water seal spirometer (which was not counter-weighted).

      There are a number of photographs and diagrams (with references) on the PFTHistory website for Benedict and Roth. Click on the [tags] in the right column to find them, I think the key, however, is that there wasn’t anything particularly revolutionary about the Benedict-Roth-Collins spirometers, it was their ability to measure oxygen consumption by using valves and/or blower motor along with soda-lime to absorb exhaled carbon dioxide that made them what they are. I think that this application was actually what pushed spirometer technology forward at that time, not the clinical or research measurement of vital capacity (there are far more papers and books published on basal metabolism than on lung function and I suspect the BMR test was significantly more lucrative).


      – Richard

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The diverse, quirky and mostly forgotten history of Pulmonary Function testing