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Do We Really Need to Thank the Beatles for the Financing of the Development of the Computed Tomography Scanner?

Maizlin, Zeev V. MD; Vos, Patrick M. MD

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography: March/April 2012 - Volume 36 - Issue 2 - p 161–164
doi: 10.1097/RCT.0b013e318249416f
Special Articles

Abstract: It is commonly believed that the revenues from the selling of the Beatles’ records by Electric and Musical Industries (EMI) allowed the company to develop the computed tomography (CT) scanner. Some went to define this as the Beatles’ gift to medicine. However, significant controversies and discrepancies arise from analysis of this statement, making its correctness doubtful. The details of financing required for the CT development and the part of EMI in financial input have never been publicly announced. This work analyzes the financial contributions to the CT development and investigates if the revenues received from the sales of the Beatles’ records were used for the creation of the CT scanner.

Timeline of the development of the EMI CT scanner and the financial inputs of EMI and British Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) were assessed. Without salary expenses to Godfrey Hounsfield and his team, the development of the CT scanner cost EMI approximately £100,000. The British DHSS’s expenses were £606,000. Hence, the financial contribution of DHSS into the development of the CT scanner was significantly bigger than that of EMI. Accordingly, British tax payers and officials of British DHSS are to be thanked for the CT scanner.

The Beatles’ input into the world’s culture is valuable and does not require decoration by nonexistent connection to the development of CT. A positive aspect to this misconception is that it keeps in public memory the name of the company that developed the CT scanner.

*From the Centre for Medical and Radiology History and Department of Radiology, McMaster University Medical Centre, Hamilton, Ontario; and †Department of Radiology, St Paul’s Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Received for publication November 20, 2011; accepted December 6, 2011.

Reprints: Zeev V. Maizlin, MD, Centre for Medical and Radiology History and Department of Radiology, McMaster University Medical Centre, 1200 Main St W, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3Z5 (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.