Dave Lampert, the inventor of the Sybian Sex Aid, has gone on his final ride, dying at the age of 90.
A hulking, vibrating structure that resembles a balance beam, the Sybian was designed by Lampert in 1987 as a sexual stimulation device targeted specifically to women. Its vibrations are intended to simultaneously stimulate the user’s clitoris, perineum, and anus; it also comes with a dildo for internal stimulation.
According to his website, Lampert, a professional dance instructor, initially came up with the idea for the device to enhance female orgasm during penetrative sex. “In the beginning, Dave’s interest in developing the Sybian was purely seeing a need for something to help women experience orgasms, and many of them,” his daughter, Bunny Lampert, tells Rolling Stone. “He wanted women to be in control of their own sexuality and responsibility for their sexual health and orgasms.”
The idea was at first met with resistance by many engineers and product developers he encountered. “We were concerned that what we were working on was possibly pornographic. Our own knowledge was lacking,” he wrote on his website. “This attitude obviously transferred to the people we were talking to. Once our attitude changed, our reception also changed. We realized it had nothing to with pornography but might be considered controversial because it dealt with sex. Although sex is part of everyone’s every day life, it is a subject avoided by many.”
Lampert developed a prototype for the Sybian in the mid 1980s by using a vibrator, a wooden frame, and sheet metal. The name for the product derived from Sybaris, an ancient Greek city that was known as the epicenter of luxury; Lampert later referred to Sybian owners as “Sybarites.” He added a male sexual device, the Venus for Men, to his product lineup in 1998.
Though it never quite gained a foothold in the mass market due to its prohibitive price point (a “classic black Sybian” costs $1,245, according to its website), the Sybian gained popularity when it started being regularly featured on the Howard Stern Show in the early aughts, during which nubile female guests were invited to mount the machine as they had a shrieking orgasm on-air.
On social media, many in the adult industry paid respects to Lampert’s contributions to the sexual wellness industry. “Do something that would have made him grin. Go have an orgasm, hell have 3,” wrote the aptly named @Venus2000Milker, also known as Sybian employee Karen. “My heart bursts with pride just for knowing him.”