Even in today’s world, the lie detector sounds like fantasy. The accuracy of the polygraph machine gets disputed often, with many critics saying that it is not capable of accurately telling when someone is lying. But, in reality this technology dates as far back as 1878 and there have been many years developing it into the best way we have to determine if people are being honest.

Here is a basic timeline of the major developments in the history of this incredible machine.



Galianos Polygraph Expert begins their detailed timeline with an Italian physiologist named Angelo Mosso. This man constructed a device called a plythysmograph that he wanted to use in researching the way people respond to questions—a major underpinning of the way that modern lie detector machines work.



According to the BBC, in their reporting of the unusual history of the Polygraph, the machine was invented in Berkely, Claifornia by John Larson. He was working to use science to improve police tactics and behavior, and invented the prototype that would be come the polygraph. He is often credited as the man who invented the lie detector, but it was Leonarde Keeler who worked to promote and improve the technology within both law enforcement and scientific communities.



The year that the Keeler Polygraph was patented, and it is Keeler who is often cited as the man who invented the lie detector.



Keeler spend this year making major progress for the polygraph machine, including founding a school in Chicago, Illinois that would be dedicated to helping people learn to operate and understand the Polygraph—The Keeler Polygraph Institute.



There were major developments throughout the 1960s relating to polygraph analysis and the evolution of questions asked.


1980s- 1990s

The first attempts to computerize the Polygraph began in the 80s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s, like most of the rest of the world, scientists started working on ways to bring the polygraph into the modern, computer age. A software called Polyscore was invented that helped to analyze polygraph data and was soon used in hundreds of real criminal cases.


200s- Present

Although there have been several improvements to the Polyscore software, there have been few major advancements to the machine or the process itself. Over the last 20 years, instead there have been multiple studies on the accuracy and efficiency of the Polygraph. With the National Academy of Sciences concluding in 2003 that although it is not a perfect system is still the best possible at detecting lies and no other alternatives are on the horizon.