The Pedoscope

How many of you remember the Pedoscope?Pedoscope

While it might sound like a telescope for pedophiles, it was actually a machine that could be found in many shoe and department stores from the 1920s till as late as the 1970s in some countries. Also called an X-ray Shoe Fitter or Foot-o-scope, it was a fluoroscope that let customers see how well their potential shoe purchase fit while also dispensing loads of lovely lethal radiation to anyone in the area (Pedoscopes weren’t very well insulated).

I have a memory of my parents taking me to Haak Brothers department store in Lebanon, PA, where I tried on a pair of shoes, and the sales clerk then had me stick my feet into the machine as both he and I looked through the view ports to see how the shoes fit. I can still recall that greenish image of my toes wiggling (well, the bones in my toes).

(By the way, the picture that I found shows that there were three view ports, one for the customer wearing the shoes and two others that could be used by the sales clerk and the parents, but in my memory the Haak Brothers machine only had one view port on the other side, not two.)

This must have occurred when I was no more than four years old, as the US banned the machines in 1953.

The UK was not quite so restrictive. In 1957 they decreed one shouldn’t put one’s  feet in those machines more than 12 times a year. (What about the poor sales clerks?) So Pedoscopes could be found in Britain as late as the 1970s.

Of course, the shoe industry did not take the ban lying down; they loudly denied the potential harm from using those devices. Now what industry does that remind you of?

Here’s an article from the Perth Daily News from November 26, 1949:

Daily News  Perth WA 1949 11 26 p10

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