Oldest Piece of Equipment Contest

COMP 2017 oldest piece of working medical physics equipment contest

Reminder: Search to Find Canada’s Oldest Piece of Functioning Medical Physics Equipment

The COMP Annual Scientific Meeting is coming to Ottawa July 12-15, home to Canada’s Museum of Science and Technology (also due to re-open in 2017, but only later in the year). We thought it would be fun to try to tie the two things together by running a competition to see what museum pieces are still out there in clinics across Canada.

The rules for this competition are quite simple:

  1. Find your oldest piece of equipment that is transportable (this rules out 50-year old x-ray tubes, 1930s radium sources, and the like).
  2. Test it to verify that it is working.
  3. Send in documentary evidence to prove (1) and (2).
  4. Depending on the number of entries, we may have more than one category, e.g., oldest radiation detector, oldest electrometer, oldest ancillary equipment (barometer, thermometer, etc, but no mercury thank you).
  5. The judges’ decision is perfect and final.
  6. Our ultimate aim is to get the winners pieces shipped to NRC for calibration and then displayed at the COMP 2017 ASM. We’re still working on this step.
  7. NRC staff members are not permitted to enter, due to our tendency to never throw anything away …

Please send your documentary evidence (not your equipment, just yet) to:
Malcolm McEwen, Ionizing Radiation Standards, National Research Council
1200 Montreal Rd, Ottawa, ON, K1A0R6

NRC unearths important historical artefact

The Ionizing Radiation Standards group at the NRC today announced the discovery of an important historical artefact. It was a typical scenario: two NRC researchers were going through an old cupboard of equipment and came across a prototype ionization chamber dating from the 1970s. However, it was not the radiation detector that caught their attention, it was the storage container that got them really excited!

Yes indeed, it is a 50-year-old Kleenex box! More specifically, it’s a 50-year-old Kleenex box marking Canada’s centennial:

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a piece of our country’s heritage that maybe even the Canadian Museum of History doesn’t own! It seems appropriate that it was unearthed just in time for Canada’s 150!

Whether the radiation detector is of any use or interest is yet to be determined.
Malcolm McEwen and Alexandra Bourgouin, NRC, Ottawa, Canada

Why can NRC not take part in the comp 2017 competition to find the oldest piece of working medical physics equipment?

This is a Kelley-Koett x-ray unit.
The control panel indicates an operating range of 20-100 kV.
The manufacturer’s plate gives the above information.

The magic of a certain search engine provides some further information:

The Kelley-Keott Manufacturing Company was located at 212 West Fourth Street in Covington, Kentucky in 1949. It was founded by John Kelley and Albert Koett. In 1950, it was located at 125 East 6th Street. In 1950, they relocated to 966-10 York Street, Cincinnati, Ohio. It was advertised as the “Leading Manufacturer of Instruments for the Atomic Age”. In 1948, they announced the “Keleket” Instrument Division for the production of high quality instruments for the detection of radiation. They also claim to be manufacturers of fine x-ray equipment since 1900.


Given the manufacturing plate we can establish that this unit was produced some time in 1949 or 1950, making it 67 years old! But does it still work? NRC has a habit of storing old stuff, “just in case”, so it might just be junk....

The answer is yes. Combining this venerable unit with Polaroid 72 instant B&W film (also obsolete) we acquired some pretty decent radiographs of diode detectors: