Human anatomy, in '60s 3D, by the inventor of the View-Master

Snip from a New York Times piece by John Schwartz on a new online archive of stereoscopic human anatomy images, produced in the early 1960s:

[David L. Bassett] was an expert in anatomy and dissection at the University of Washington. For more than 17 years, he was engaged in creating what has been called the most painstaking and detailed set of images of the human body, inside and out, ever produced. In 3-D.

Working closely with William Gruber, the inventor of the View-Master, the three-dimensional viewing system that GAF Corporation popularized as a toy in the 1960s, Dr. Bassett created the 25-volume “Stereoscopic Atlas of Human Anatomy” in 1962. It included some 1,500 pairs of slides, along with line drawings that made the details more discernible. The paired slides could be examined with a View-Master, making the chest cavity look cavernous, and making details of structure and tissue stand out unforgettably.

The atlas was an immediate success and the images became an important resource for medical students, even more so as schools have de-emphasized gross anatomy and cadaver work. But the atlas eventually went out of publication in the 1960s.

Thanks to Stanford University’s school of medicine, however, the work will soon be available to the world. The school is bringing the images online, (See a sampling.).

Link to full text of story, here's a cool slideshow. Images shown here courtesy of Stanford, and Gruber's family.

A months' worth of web access to the "head and neck collection" is eight bucks; so far, all the other body parts are not yet online. I don't understand the pricing structure, or why they bother charging for access at all -- but, (shrugs), the content sure is wonderful.

Previously on BB:
• Incredible human dissection photos on Flickr Link



  1. how come everyone else gets the interesting relatives? Aside from the Marie Celeste, I’ve got nothing.

  2. My school had a copy of this set, which they kept in a locked cabinet… perhaps to protect it, perhaps because they didn’t want to deal with the concept of us studying the pelvic structure slides. Not that a dissection is particularly erotic material.

  3. Individual volumes from this set, with reels, come up for sale every once in a great while on eBay. They always go high.

    Of course, they’re on my ‘must-buy’ list.

  4. Everyone else gets the cool relatives. Mine are only good for pulling rank on racists who start yapping about how long ago their family’s been in the country.

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