History of Metal Detecting

The ability to find metal from afar would have been useful in any era, but scientists only conceived of successful detection methods in the late 1800s. The history of the hobby begins there.

Early machines that could create a magnetic field and measure the effect nearby metal had on this field were like any other technological first edition — large, clunky, and inefficient.

Field use required a mobile power source and burned through battery power at a blistering pace.

Early Developments

In 1925, Gerhard Fisher was granted the first patent for a metal detector. His design used a metal coil resonating at a radio frequency that was distorted by nearby metal.

American businessman Shirl Herr received a patent in 1928 for a similar design that was effective to depth of 8 feet. His invention quickly went international and was used in Antarctic exploration and the recovery of ancient Italian artifacts.

During World War II, the design was improved and adapted for truly practical work: detecting mines. But the machinery was still cumbersome, powered by discrete battery packs and controlled by vacuum tubes.

Making Technology Practical

Kenneth G. White

After World War II, many refinements to metal detecting technology emerged as numerous players competed.

In 1950, White’s Electronics founder Ken White Sr. released his Oremaster Gieger Counter, a revolutionary device that didn’t require headphones as it detected uranium. The uranium market declined, but other metals were in high demand.

Machines became smaller and lighter as tiny transistors replaced oversized vacuum tubes. This reduced the size of the core technology and also required less power, shrinking the requirements for battery power.

Modern Metal Detectors

With user-friendly models that could be comfortably hand-held, more hobbyists had the opportunity to try metal detecting and began to hunt for gold, silver, coins, lost treasure, and buried artifacts. The technology was no longer confined by cost and complexity to major industrial or military applications.

Discrimination provided different feedback based on the type of metal detected. Other innovations have also propelled the performance and versatility of consumer-level metal detectors. Integrated circuits and onboard microprocessor allow for complex settings to be chosen and stored digitally. Differently shaped coils offer different benefits. The detection technique of pulse induction filters out metallic noise to isolate the metal hunters

White’s Electronics continues to push our detector designs to offer treasure hunters new performance and convenience, bringing you the best metal detecting experience yet.