A team of five biomedical engineers in Edinburgh, Scotland created the first working bionic arm in 1993.
Campbell Aird's right arm was amputated in 1982 after doctors diagnosed muscular cancer. In 1998 he received a new bionic arm called the Edinburgh Modular Arm System (EMAS) packed with microchips, position-control circuits, miniature motors, gears, and pulleys. It rotated at the shoulder, bent at the elbow, rotated and twisted at the wrist, and could grip using artificial fingers. Campbell wore a cap containing an array of microsensors that could pick up the electrical pulses his brain was still sending to his absent arm muscles. These pulses then controlled each movement of his "new" arm. .This amazing arm was designed by Touch EMAS and developed by Elumotion Ltd., and it is currently patented and in production through Touch EMAS,
Modern bionic arms have come even further since Campbell received his new limb. Current technology allows doctors to re-route nerves that used to control an arm onto muscles in the chest. Then electrodes on a chest-harness can detect tiny electric signals from the nerves in the chest and transmit them to a miniature computer which can then use those signals to control the small electric motors in the patient's arm and hand. A little experience with the machine allows a user to learn to move the arm just by thinking about it. Modern bionic limbs have not yet managed to send sensory signals back to a patient's brain to offer a sense of touch, but that could change as engineers continue to work on the problem.
To learn more read Campbell Aird's Bionic Arm story and A "Manhattan Project" for the Next Generation of Bionic Arms.