A HISTIIRY of METAL DETECTORS
story Richard Howe, photos courtesy FRL
,ulyone lvho has ever used a metal detector
thrilt of filding an o1d coin, a relic, or
nugget of gold, owes a debt of thanks to Dr.
rard Fisher and, of all things, a dirigible.
In the 19zo's, Dr. Fisher was working as a
esearch engineer in Los Angeles and obtained
he first patent ever issued on aircraft radio de_
tion finders. LIis work attracted the interest
another farnous scientist, Dr, Albert
nstein. After meeting u,ith Dr. Fisher,
instein enthusiastically and comectly pre_
icted the worlcl wide use of radio detection
ders in the air, on land and at sea.
During the 19gO's Dr. Fisher was hired by the U.S.
install a radio detection finder aboard the dirigible, th!
SS IVIacon. It was aboard the Macon that Dr. Fisher discov_
red that large metal buildines and mineralized mountain-s
celled out the instruments diion finding capabilities leadg him to the discovery of the
first metal rietector:
Building upon his discovery,
: Fisher founded Fisher Rech Laboratory in r93 1, in a
e behind his home in palo
to, California. He and four emIoyees began producing the
tallascope", a rugged, easy to
metal detector. By todays
vacuum tubes and a few as-
By 1996, sales had increased
the point wher.e the garage was
longer large enough. Fisher
search Laboratory was moved
in palo AIto.
thereafter, Dr. Fisher was
nted a patent for his
etallascope." The first patent
issued for a metal detector.
e "Metallascope: was soon nicknamed the M_Scope,
h, became an accepted standard fbr all types of electronic
detection: geologists located o.", t.uuru.e hunters
utility companies located buried pipes, lum_
located metal inclusions in logs and law enforce_
it to locate abandoned
weapons and evi_
rgsg, just prior to World War II, Fisher moved to
larger building in Palo AIto. During World War II and
tIl subsequent Korean conflict the company was called
to contribute its technical competen"e to the war
With the increasing popularity of the
with Fishers patent
rights expiring, numerous competitors began producing similar equipment. Due to a concentrated fbcus on
technological advancement - and in
particular, by keeping close contact
with countless loyal users to utilize
their vast field experience in the design of new models - Fisher has uraintained its position of solid leatlership.
In 1961, Fisher nroved to
Belmont, California and in 196?, Dr..
Fisher finally retired, having firmly
established his name in the annals of
electronic history. The company continued to groq and in 19?4, \4,ith its
new president, Jim Lewellen, uroved
to downtown Los Banos, Califomia.
During the next eb years, under Jims
dedicated direction, the company
rvouiri grow bv leaps and bounds, producing detecting instruments 1br the
hobby and industrial markets which
continue to set the standard today. In
r99O, Fisher built a spacious, modern
manufacturing plant in the Los Banos
Industrial Park, where the worldt
ed components but it soon
ptivated the imagination of the
untry, and within a short time,
The dirigible USS Macon.
Below: a reporter tries out the new M-Scope
in Rocl<efeller Centeri Febrr-tary, lgj7 .
andards, it was an ungainly dee: two large, flat lvooden boxes
ntaining simple copper coils,
a small building
Dr. Gerhard Fisher
oldest metal detector manufacturer now resides.
Today, Fisher, under the leadership of Roger Cimino,
continues to lead by example. Recently, Fishers detectors
could be found in the hands of the secret service searching
the white house grounds after a shooting or being used by "a
crime scene investigator on the hit television series ,,CSLLooking toward the next zo years, and in celebration of their
Toth anniversary, Fisher has just released the special edition
1270. What else is in store from the first name in metal detec_
torsP The sky is the limit, It just takes a dirigible to get