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Our Heritage

Our Company History Our Company History

Since the beginning, more than 130 years ago, we aim to keep people well at every age and every stage of life.


Johnson & Johnson was founded over 130 years ago. Since then, we have been developing new ideas and products that have transformed human health and well-being. Every invention, every product and every breakthrough has been powered by generations of employees who are inspired make a difference. Their motivation is simply to improve peoples' lives.

The Family of Companies is focused on three business areas: Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices and Consumer Health Care.

  • 1886

    New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.

    Three brothers, Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson and Edward Mead Johnson, found Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.

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  • 1888

    Antiseptic Wound Treatment

    The Company publishes Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment, which quickly becomes one of the standard teaching texts for antiseptic surgery. It helps spread the practice of sterile surgery in the U.S. and around the world.

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  • 1888

    First Commercial First Aid Kits

    Johnson & Johnson pioneers the first commercial first aid kits. The initial kits are designed to help railroad workers, but soon becomes the standard in treating injuries.

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  • 1894

    Maternity Kits & JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder

    Johnson & Johnson launches maternity kits to make childbirth safer for mothers and babies. JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder goes on the market. Its success leads to the Company's heritage Baby business.

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  • 1896-1897

    Sanitary Protection Products

    Employees manufacture the first mass-produced sanitary protection products for women, a huge step forward in women’s health.

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  • 1898

    Dental Floss

    The Company is the first to mass produce dental floss to make it affordable so that people can take better care of their teeth. The floss is originally made from left over suture silk.

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  • 1900

    The Start of a Tradition

    The tradition of providing disaster relief begins when the Company donates products and money to help the citizens of Galveston, Texas, in the aftermath of a hurricane.

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  • 1901

    The First First Aid Manuals

    As part of its commitment to first aid, Johnson & Johnson publishes the first First Aid Manuals, using proven best practices from leading physicians. The manuals are packaged with the Company's First Aid Kits.

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  • 1906

    San Francisco Earthquake

    Within hours of the San Francisco Earthquake, Johnson & Johnson donates products and money to help the citizens of San Francisco, the largest amount of help from any organization.

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  • 1910

    James Wood Johnson

    James Wood Johnson takes over the leadership of Johnson & Johnson until 1932.

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  • 1921

    Invention of BAND-AID®

    BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, invented by employee Earle Dickson in 1920, go on the market. They are the first commercial dressings for small wounds that consumers can apply themselves.

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  • 1924

    The Company Enters the UK

    Our first overseas operating company opens in the United Kingdom.

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  • 1930-1931

    Further Company Expansion

    The Company expands to Mexico and South Africa (1930) and to Australia (1931).

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  • 1931

    First Prescription Contraceptive Gel

    A Johnson & Johnson operating company pioneers family planning products with ORTHO-GYNOL®, the first prescription contraceptive gel. This was based on the need for trusted family planning products.

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  • 1932

    General Johnson

    Robert Wood Johnson II, son of the Company founder by the same name, begins leadership of Johnson & Johnson. Known as General Johnson, he transforms the Company into a global decentralized Family of Companies.

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  • 1937

    Company Expansion

    The Company expands to Argentina and Brazil. Ortho Research Laboratories, Inc. is established in Linden, New Jersey, to make women’s health products.

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  • 1943

    Writing Our Credo

    General Robert Wood Johnson writes Our Credo, which remains the guiding philosophy of Johnson & Johnson.

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  • 1944

    Johnson & Johnson Goes Public

    Dr. Philip Levine, the discoverer of the human rH factor, joins Ortho Research Laboratories, creating the beginnings of the worldwide diagnostics business. Johnson & Johnson goes public, with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

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  • 1949

    Ethicon, Inc.

    Ethicon, Inc. is formed from the Company’s heritage suture business.

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  • 1954


    JOHNSON'S® Baby Shampoo with NO MORE TEARS® formula enters the market as the first mild and soap-free shampoo designed to be gentle enough to clean babies' hair but not irritate their eyes.

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  • 1957

    J&J Opens in India

    The first Johnson & Johnson operating company opens in India.

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  • 1959

    TYLENOL® Becomes Available

    Johnson & Johnson acquires McNeil Laboratories in the U.S. and Cilag Chemie, AG in Europe, giving the Company a significant presence in the growing field of pharmaceutical medicines. One McNeil product, TYLENOL® (acetaminophen) elixir for children, is the first prescription aspirin-free pain reliever. A year later, it becomes available without a prescription and earns status as the pain reliever doctors and pediatricians recommend most.

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  • 1961

    Janssen Pharmaceutica Joins the Family of Companies

    Janssen Pharmaceutica Belgium joins the Family of Companies. Its founder, Dr. Paul Janssen, is recognized as one of the most innovative and prolific pharmaceutical researchers of the 20th century.

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  • 1963-1973

    New Treatments

    Under Chairman and CEO Philip B. Hofmann's leadership, operating companies launch new treatments for schizophrenia, family planning and personal care. Also, 1963 marks the last year that JOHNSON'S® Baby Powder is sold in tins.

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  • 1978

    New World Headquarters

    Chairman and CEO Richard B. Sellars announces plans to build new World Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and forms a public-private partnership to revitalize the city.

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  • 1976-1989

    New Areas of Health

    During James E. Burke’s tenure and CEO, the Company enters new areas of health, such as vision care, mechinical wound closure and diabetes management, and opens the first operating Companies in China and Egypt.

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  • 1987

    Safe Kids Worldwide

    Johnson & Johnson is a founding partner in Safe Kids Worldwide, the first national and then global campaign to reduce accidental childhood injury. By 2008, the campaign helps reduce the death rate for unintentional injury in children ages 14 and under in the U.S. by 45 percent.

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  • 1987

    Introducing ACUVUE®

    The vision care business introduces ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses, the first disposable contact lenses that can be worn for up to a week, thrown away and replaced with a fresh pair. The lenses eliminate the need for cleaning, disinfecting solutions and storage. Later, 1-DAY ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses become the first daily disposable contact lens.

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  • 1989-2002

    Further Expansion

    Under Ralph S. Larsen's leadership as Chairman and CEO, Neutrogena Corporation, Kodak's Clinical Diagnostics business, Cordis Corporation and Centocor join the Family of Companies; Expansion continues into Russia and Eastern Europe.

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  • 1990s

    Minimally Invasive Surgery

    Ethicon Endo-Surgery pioneers minimally invasive surgery, which uses very small incisions and helps patients recover faster than with traditional surgery.

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  • 1994

    First Coronary Stent

    The development of the first coronary stent revolutionizes cardiology. Coronary stents keep the vessels open so that blood can flow to the heart. Later, Cordis Corporation produces the first stents which continuously release a drug into the artery walls to prevent them from clogging up again.

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  • 2002

    New Therapeutic Areas

    William C. Weldon becomes Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, only the eighth person to lead the Company since its founding. Under his leadership, the Company enters new therapeutic areas such as HIV/AIDS, and health and wellness.

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  • 2002

    Addressing Unmet Needs

    Johnson & Johnson acquires Tibotec-Virco BVBA to help address the vast unmet needs of patients with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis.

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  • 2006

    Pfizer Consumer Healthcare

    Johnson & Johnson acquires Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which brings in heritage consumer brands such as LISTERINE® Antiseptic (first formulated in 1879), BENGAY®, BENADRYL® and more.

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  • 2010

    Every Mother, Every Child

    The Company launches Every Mother, Every Child in support of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to improve the health of mothers and children in developing countries. Also this year, as a founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson helps launch the United States’ first free mobile health service that provides timely and expert health information through text messages for pregnant women and new mothers.

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  • 2011

    125 Years of Caring

    Johnson & Johnson celebrates 125 years of caring and looks to the next 125 years of transforming care for patients, consumers and communities around the world.

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  • 2012

    Ninth CEO Appointed

    Alex Gorsky is appointed Chief Executive Officer of Johnson & Johnson. As only the ninth CEO in our history, he continues a legacy of leadership.

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  • 2013

    Might Want To Reformat This Event

    1. Our First Aid Kits celebrated their 125th anniversary.
    2. Opened innovation centers in Boston, MA; Menlo Park, CA; London, UK; and Shanghai, China.
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  • 2015

    Teeth Whitening Mouthwash

    The new Listerine® Advanced White mouthwash for whiter teeth helps remove stains, remineralizes and strengthens them all at the same time - for a confident smile with whiter teeth.

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  • 2016

    Neutrogena® Campaign

    Neutrogena® moves women worldwide with its campaign “See what is possible”. The message is intended to encourage consumers on making their dreams come true and showing their best side.

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  • 2017

    Largest Acquisition in Company History

    Johnson & Johnson acquires Actelion, a biotech company based in Allschwil, in the canton of Basel-Country, for approximately USD 30 billion. It is the largest acquisition in the history of Johnson & Johnson.

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  • 2018

    Recognition for Switzerland

    Johnson & Johnson Switzerland has been recognized among the top 3 attractive Swiss employers in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry ranking of Universum.

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