The stethoscope was invented in 1816 when a young French physician named Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laennec was examining a young female patient. Laennec was embarrassed to place his ear to her chest ( Immediate Auscultation ), which was the method of auscultation used by physicians at that time. He remembered a trick he learned as a child that sound travels through solids and thus he rolled up 24 sheets of paper, placed one end to his ear and the other end to the woman’s chest. He was delighted to discover that the sounds were not only conveyed through the paper cone, but they were also loud and clear.
The first recorded manuscript documenting auscultation using the stethoscope ( Mediate Auscultation ) was in March 8, 1817, when Laennec noted examining a Marie-Melanie Basset, who was 40 years old.