Today, 53 percent of American women say they’ve used a vibrator — and with so many new, couple-friendly, Bluetooth-controlled, and playlist-driven options we’ve got to choose from, we’re betting number is only going to rise. But don’t take your trusty, low-tech vibrator for granted — this sex toy has a fascinating and (surprisingly prudish) history.

500 BC: Sure, we were still a long, long ways off from inventing the vibrator, but to tell the history of the vibrator, we also need to tell the history of hysteria. Dating all the way back to the time of Hippocrates and lasting for millennia, hysteria was basically a catch-all diagnosis for any sort of mental or emotional distress experienced by women. The actual word “hysteria” wasn’t in use yet, but we’d later get the word from “hystera,” the Greek word for “uterus.” Fitting, since many ailments were blamed on a “discontented uterus” during this time.

200 AD: Sexual deprivation was to blame for hysteria — at least according to Roman physician Galen. For married women, the cure was sex with their husbands. For the widows and singles, it was genital massage to the rescue. The end result? “Hysterical paroxysm,” aka an orgasm.

1660: Fast-forwarding quite a bit, hysteria is still ”a thing,” and physicians are exhausted from bringing female patients to orgasm. According to Nathaniel Highmore, an English surgeon, producing an orgasm in a woman was similar to “that game of boys in which they try to rub their stomachs with one hand and pat their heads with the other.” Still, tough as as the job was, physicians pressed on — after all, women could neither die nor recover from hysteria, making for excellent repeat patients.

1869: Finally, doctors’ hands got a break as the steam-powered Manipulator replaced the need for manual stimulation. Invented by American physician George Taylor, the Manipulator was basically a large padded table with a hole, positioned so that the attached vibrating sphere could massage the pelvic area.

1880s: Things started picking up speed. British physician Joseph Mortimer Granville designed the first battery-powered vibrator — though he wasn’t into the ladies using it, advising that it only be applied to male skeletal muscles to ease aches and pains. Physicians in search of vibratory devices for their practices largely ignored him, as did women who could finally have a vibrator at home. Keep in mind, though this was considered the first portable, battery-powered vibrator, we’re not talking two Duracell double Ds — Granville’s invention ran on a 40-pound battery.

Early 1900s: The sewing machine, the fan, the kettle, and the toaster had all already gone electric, but who can enjoy warm bread when you were still hauling a 40-pound vibrator around the room? The vibrator was the fifth home appliance ever to be electrified. Meanwhile, physicians outfitted their offices with models that tested the bounds of creativity — there were vibrators powered by air pressure, vibrators on rollers, and even vibrators that could be suspended from the ceiling. Despite the fact that vibrators were literally hanging from the ceilings, they were still hailed as medical devices and “cure-alls,” not a sexual aide, in advertisements.

1920s: The vibrator made its first appearance in early porn films. Surely it was time to stop pretending the vibrator was merely a medical device, right?

1950s: Nope! It took a few more decades of vaguely worded advertisements before the vibrator could be accepted for what it was (some, like the Venus Adonis promised to “revitalize and streamline your figure,” while others made references to being “mildly soothing or deeply penetrating.” On the plus side, the American Psychological Association finally dropped the term “hysteria” from their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1952.

1960s & 1970s: Magic Wands for everyone! Books like Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, sexuality educators like Betty Dodson, and women everywhere challenged the taboo around women’s sexuality. The sexual revolution was in full swing, vibrators were openly marketed as a sex aid and widely available, and women were finally free to give themselves a hand.

Today: We’ve come a long way — but we’ve still got a long way to go. Sure, we’ve gone from vibrators that resemble power tools to $15,000, 24-carat gold-plated toys, but the next frontier isn’t making vibrators more expensive; it’s making them more inclusive — for example, to those with disabilities, those with less disposable income, and for non-gender-conforming users.

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer and copywriter living in Brooklyn, NY. She loves flea markets, martinis, to-do lists, traveling, and wearing leggings as pants. You can see more of her writing at www.dianavilibert.com and follow her on Twitter at @dianavilibert.