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Toshiba euthanasia laptop goes on display

Hit the space bar and end it all

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A Toshiba laptop used to kill humans is to go on show in London.

The euthanasia machine, developed by an Australian nicknamed "Dr Death", is believed to be the first machine used to legally kill ill people.

It was previously used to put four people out of their misery in the Northern Territory of Oz, but has been redundant since 1997 when the Federal Parliament in Canberra stepped in to overrule the state's right-to-die legislation.

Soon visitors to London's Science Museum will be able to gawp at this macabre machine as the establishment has paid 1000 for the device. It plans to display it in its 50 million Wellcome Wing, due to open next month.

"Dr Death", or Nitschke to his friends, was last night helping curators to assemble his invention. It even appeared to have the museum staff spooked, with John Durant, assistant director at the museum, describing the machine as "disturbing" in today's Times.

The device, a concoction of syringes, needles and tubes wired up to a laptop, worked by administering a lethal dose of Nembutal – the drug that killed film heroines Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.

Candidates for the voluntary euthanasia were first vetted by four doctors – including a psychiatrist to check they were sane, and by Dr Nitschke himself. They would then have nine days to ponder their fate, and if they decided they still wanted to meet their maker, Dr Nitschke would turn up with his death machine.

"It was always difficult," Dr Nitschke told The Times. "When you knocked on that door, the patient knew you were coming there to end their life."

The patient got a needle in their arm, while the computer sat on the bed. The laptop asked the patient twice if they knew what they were doing. The third time they had to hit the space bar to confirm they wanted to die. Fifteen seconds later a message was sent to a switching unit, which turned on a compressor.

One hundred millilitres of liquid Nembutal, contained ina 14-inch tube, then shot up the patient's arm – he or she would be asleep within 30 seconds and pushing up the daisies within five minutes. ®

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