heart iconheart icon
Our Heritage

13 Life-Changing Healthcare Inventions That Are Celebrating Milestone Birthdays in 2018

Johnson & Johnson has been in the innovation business for more than 130 years. Check out these first-of-their-kind company products, which have revolutionized flu protection and even changed the way we wear contact lenses.


When you’ve been around for as long as Johnson & Johnson—since 1886, to be exact!—the anniversaries start to pile up.

And since the company has been dedicated to trailblazing new products and procedures aimed at changing the standard of care for patients and consumers around the world since day one, there are now quite a few significant years in our history that are worth celebrating.

From dental floss to contact lenses, these 13 inventions tied to Johnson & Johnson are all marking milestone anniversaries in 2018.

  • Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
    130 Years Ago

    First Aid Kits

    The first commercial first aid kit was introduced in 1888 following a fortuitous train ride.

    During a cross-country trip on the Denver & Rio Grande railroad line, company founder Robert Wood Johnson got to talking with the railroad’s chief surgeon, who revealed that locomotive and track workers were frequently injured on the job and left without ready access to medical care.

    Johnson realized this was a widespread problem at the time, so he developed the first commercial first aid kits—one for the railroad, and another for general consumer use—that included such items as sterile dressings, sutures and surgical tape.

    At right is the cover of an early Johnson & Johnson Hand Book of First Aid, which included instructions for using the company's first aid kits.
    Read More
  • Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
    120 Years Ago

    Dental Floss

    Although dental floss existed before 1898, Johnson & Johnson was the first company to make it widely available.

    At the time, people were apt to use the sharpened ends of quills or slivers of wood to clean between their teeth (ouch!) because silk dental floss was too pricey, so the company decided to use the excess silk left over from its suture-manufacturing business to make a more affordable version of floss for the average consumer.
    Read More
  • Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
    100 Years Ago

    Epidemic Masks

    In 1918, an influenza pandemic swept the globe. Since vaccines and many other advancements of modern medicine weren't available at the time, the flu claimed the lives of millions.

    In response, Johnson & Johnson introduced the Epidemic Mask (shown at right), made from sterile gauze. The mask was a simple public health product that helped to effectively block germs and prevent the flu’s spread.
    Read More
  • Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
    75 Years Ago

    Duct Tape

    Can’t imagine life without duct tape? Thank Vesta Stoudt. She invented the product in 1943, after packing military materials in boxes that were sealed using thin paper tape that just wasn’t up to the task in wartime situations.

    Stoudt suggested the boxes be sealed with a strong, cloth-based, waterproof tape instead, and she even mailed her proposal to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Soon after, the War Production Board asked Johnson & Johnson to manufacture the tape (pictured in silver at right) based on its history of producing surgical adhesive tape.
    Read More
  • 60 Years Ago


    Haloperidol is a breakthrough treatment for schizophrenia that was discovered in 1958 by Dr. Paul Janssen (shown at right), a Belgian physician and founder of Janssen, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

    Today, the antipsychotic treatment is listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.
    Read More
  • 45 Years Ago


    Dr. Paul Janssen was the first to synthesize loperamide hydrochloride—the active ingredient in Imodium®—in 1973.

    Loperamide has since been featured in other anti-diarrheal medications and is used to treat such conditions as gastroenteritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Along with haloperidol, it currently has a spot on the WHO List of Essential Medicines.
    Read More
  • Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives
    25 Years Ago

    1-Day Acuvue® Brand Contact Lenses & Neutrogena® Oil-Free Acne Wash

    In 1993, 1-Day Acuvue® Brand Contact Lenses became the first daily disposable contact lenses.
    The product was made possible through a patented, automated, stabilized soft molding technology that offered contact lens wearers the convenience of never having to clean their lenses—along with the eye health, comfort and vision benefits of daily fresh, sterile lenses.

    In the same year, Neutrogena® released its now-iconic Oil-Free Acne Wash to treat and help prevent breakouts in one simple step. Twenty-five years later, it remains the #1 dermatologist-recommended acne-fighting cleanser.
    Read More
  • 20 Years Ago


    Johnson & Johnson has been a leader in producing sterile sutures since its founding, and in 1998, one of the company’s operating companies, Ethicon Inc., introduced a breakthrough alternative to traditional stitches.

    Dermabond® became the first FDA-cleared topical skin adhesive used to close up cuts that would otherwise require sutures or staples. Its advantages over traditional methods included the fact that it was a less traumatic treatment for children, minimized scarring and eliminated the need for a follow-up visit to remove the sutures.
    Read More
  • Image courtesy of Ethicon Archives
    15 Years Ago

    Vicryl® Plus Antibacterial Sutures

    Although Ethicon’s Vicryl® sutures—synthetic sutures that can be naturally absorbed into the skin—hit the market in 1974, the company made a significant upgrade to the product in 2003 when it introduced Vicryl® Plus Antibacterial Sutures.

    These were the first sutures made with the antibacterial triclosan, and have been shown to reduce the risk of surgical site infection by up to 30%.
    Read More
  • 10 Years Ago

    Viper®2 Pedicle Screw Fixation System

    DePuy Synthes, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, introduced the Viper®2 Pedicle Screw Fixation System in 2008.

    The system features an innovative screw design that lets surgeons address a wide range of spinal conditions, while maintaining a less invasive approach.
    Read More
  • 5 Years Ago

    Imbruvica® & Attune® Knee System

    In 2013, the FDA approved Imbruvica® for the treatment of previously treated mantle cell lymphoma. Today, the drug is approved to treat five additional disease areas, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The once-daily oral medication (a molecular view is shown at right) can be taken alone or in conjunction with chemotherapy.

    That same year, DePuy Synthes commercialized its Attune® Knee System, a total knee replacement designed to work together with a patient's knee muscles and ligaments, allowing for both motion and stability.
    Read More
When You’ve Been Around for Over 130 Years …
Johnson & Johnson has a new virtual museum where you can learn more fun facts about its rich history.
© Albert Vecerka/Esto. All rights reserved.