Bendix Family Radiation Measurement Kit

This Family Radiation Measurement Kit was manufactured by the Bendix Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio during the early 1960s and retailed for around $25. The Bendix kit was one of the first commercially available radiation detection devices designed for home use. It was marketed during the Cold War years, when families were encouraged to build fallout shelters and prepare for the possibility of nuclear war.
The Bendix kit contained three main parts: the Charger (CD V-756), the Ratemeter (CD V-736), and the Dosimeter (CD V-746). The Ratemeter was placed in an area of possible radiation, and after a minute, a reading was taken giving the dose rate in roentgens (a unit of measurement for exposure to radiation) per minute. If the meter didn’t move, the Ratemeter could be left out for an additional nine minutes and the reading taken in roentgens per hour. The Dosimeter measured the total amount of radiation exposure on a scale of zero to 600 roentgens and could be clipped to a belt or pocket. It was used after the Ratemeter indicated that radiation was present. The charger was used to re-zero the Ratemeter and Dosimeter between readings.
The kit also came with an instruction sheet which included a graph of the typical effects of radiation exposure. According to this graph, a dose of 75 roentgens causes vomiting in about 10% of people; a dose of 100 causes hair loss in at least 10%; a dose over 200 is severe enough to require medical care in 9 out of 10 cases; and a dose of 450 roentgens is the median lethal dose (fatal to 50%). Survivors are unlikely when exposure reaches 600 roentgens.
Currently not on view
Object Name
radiation kit
date made
early 1960s
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 24.1 cm x 19 cm x 8.3 cm; 9 1/2 in x 7 15/32 in x 3 9/32 in
place made
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
ID Number
catalog number
nonaccession number
Science & Mathematics
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of David C. Eisendrath
Additional Media

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