1900 to 1930
Plug-in home vibrators–marketed to women as health and relaxation aids and advertised in consumer magazines such as Needlecraft, Home Needlework Journal and Woman’s Home Companion–are some of the first electrified home appliances. The Sears & Roebuck catalog claimed the devices were a “very satisfactory … marital aid that every woman appreciates.”

1940s
In 1948, “sexologist” Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey shocks the prudish masses with his international bestseller Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The study, now known as the Kinsey Report, concluded that 94% of men and 40% of women masturbate.

1960s
The Sexual Revolution blooms with the arrival of the birth control pill. “Free love” flourishes among hippies, radicals, feminists and anyone offering a lift to Woodstock.

1970s
“Key parties” and one-night stands become the rage. Pornography and novelty stores spring up in red-light districts. Eve’s Garden in New York and Good Vibrations in San Francisco start marketing sex products to women.

1980s
The sex business goes fully mainstream. The HIV/AIDS epidemic spurs condom sales; California’s San Fernando Valley emerges as the capital of the adult entertainment industry; the range of sex toys and accessories continues to grow.

1990s
The gay rights movement brings alternative lifestyles–from drag queens to fetishists–to the forefront. In 1998, The Rabbit vibrator makes an appearance on the HBO series Sex and the City. (After the episode airs, demand for the toy skyrockets.) Meanwhile, an Alabama anti-obscenity law, enacted in 1998, bans the distribution of “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value.” Sherri Williams, owner of Pleasures stores in Huntsville and Decatur, sues on First Amendment grounds, famously declaring, “They are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand.”

Today
Including pornography, the business of sex now runs into the tens of billions of dollars annually (no official estimates are available). Sexual aids, including toys, are more readily available than ever, even from the likes of Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreen. Lubricant maker K-Y introduces a line called “Yours & Mine.” Trojan offers small, vibrating rings with their condoms. Electronics giant Phillips makes vibrators. Babeland, a retail store in Brooklyn, N.Y., offers instructional sex seminars for new mothers, as well as an in-store diaper-changing station. Yes, we’ve come a long way.

History of Sex Industry

History of Sex Industry

Extract from Forbes

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Ancient Origins
500 B.C.: Traders from Greek port of Miletus sold olisbos, an early version of the dildo.
350 B.C.: First mention of olive oil as a sexual enhancement, mainly to encourage contraception.
0 to 400 A.D.: The Roman Empire had a lascivious edge–little wonder the very word “sex” comes from the Latin “sexus.” Written and artistic histories include numerous references to simple sex toy innovations.

Asia
300 A.D.: The Kama Sutra, the classic Indian sex manual, suggests crafting penis-extenders from wood, leather, buffalo horn, copper and gold.
500 A.D.: Men use Ben Wa balls to enhance pleasure (some had clappers that made a ringing sound during intercourse); women use them to increase the strength of their pelvic floor muscles, much like modern Kegel exercises.

The Middle Ages
476 to 1453: The Roman Catholic Church looked askance at sexual expression–to put it mildly–and some prominent offenders were burned at the stake. Mens’ and womens’ clothing covered neck to toe. In 12th century Europe, female chastity belts–secured with padlocks to which only husbands had the key–ensured fidelity. China, meanwhile, devised penis rings from the eyelids of goats (with eyelashes intact), said to enhance pleasure during intercourse.

The Renaissance
1400 to 1700: In Renaissance Italy, the Greek olisbo became “dildo” (possibly from the Latin dilatare, “to open wide,” or the Italian diletto, “to delight”). Italian versions were made of wood or leather and required liberal lubrication.

France
1791: Marquis de Sade–from whom the term “sadism” is derived–publishes the erotic Justine. While his controversial writings would eventually land him in jail, they also sparked interest in an array of sexual accessories and devices.

The Victorian Era
1869: A primitive vibrator makes its debut. Developed by American physician George Taylor, it was a large, cumbersome, steam-powered apparatus. Taylor recommended it for treatment of an illness known at the time as “female hysteria”–otherwise known as sexual arousal.

History of sex industry

© The Gallery Collection/Corbis

Extract from Forbes

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