The Joy Buzzer was invented in 1928 by Samuel Sorenson Adams of the S.S. Adams Company. It was modeled after another product The Zapper, which was similar to the Joy Buzzer, but did not have a very effective buzz and contained a button that had a blunt point which would hurt the person whose hand was shaken.
Adams brought a rather large prototype of his newly designed buzzer to Dresden, Germany, where a machinist created the tools that would make the parts for a new palm size Joy Buzzer. In 1932, the item received from the U.S. Patent Office. The instant success of the new item allowed Adams to move to a new building and increase the size of his company. Adams continued to send royalty payments to the tool and die maker until 1934, when the payments were returned. Adams surmised that the tool maker, who was Jewish, used the funds to escape Germany.
In 1987, Sam Adams son, Joseph "Bud" Adams, redesigned the mechanism for great durability and a louder buzz, and marketed it as the Super Joy Buzzer.
A common misconception is that the joy buzzer actually delivers an electric shock, and many stylized villains in fiction (e.g. Batman's nemesis The Joker) employ "lethally powerful" joy buzzers as weapons. However, a shocking pen does, which works by sending a mild electric shock when a victim presses the button on top; the pen can be turned to make it release the point.