So where did it all start??
With the wonderfully named ‘Drunkometer’ designed by Dr Rolla Neil Harga of Indiana University who invented the first successful device for testing human blood alcohol content in 1931.
Described as being more a miniature laboratory, the Drunkometer consisted of a breath-test balloon inside a machine which collected the sample, and then forced the collected air through potassium permanganate crystals. The more alcohol in the breath, the more acetic acid produced, the bigger the colour change of the crystals.
Much like the AlcoChecks we sell today (which were in use by the Police until digital breathalyzers took over) albeit on a less than pocket-sized basis!
Then in 1954, Robert Borkenstein designed the first hand-held Breathalyzer capable of accurately measuring the blood-alcohol content of a sample.
Whereas the Drunkometer required calibration each time it was moved, the newly-designed Breathalyzer used chemical oxidation and photometry to discern the results, and was truly portable and therefore perfect for roadside use by Police and Law Enforcement.
And so an industry was born…