Pre-700 BC Fingerprints are used on clay tablets for business transaction in ancient Babylon.
287-212 BC Archimedes talks about being able to prove the crown was not made of gold using density and buoyancy.
250 BC Erasistratus, an ancient Greek physician, discovers that his patients pulse rates increase when they are telling lies. Allegedly the first lie detection test.
1235 Story of Sung Tzu and the bloody sickle. A murder was committed using a sickle. All those in the village who owned a sickle were made to bring them out and lay them in the sun. Eventually flies gathered on one particular sickle, identifying it as the murder weapon.
1248 The Chinese book His Duan Yu (The Washing Away of Wrongs) describes how to distinguish drowning from strangulation. The first recorded application of medicine to help solve crimes.
1302 Bartolomeo da Varignana performs a medicolegal autopsy in the case of suspected murder of a nobleman.
1447 The missing teeth of the French Duke of Burgundy are used to identify remains.
1590 The first microscope is developed.
1609 Francois Damelle publishes the first treatise on systematic document examination.
1658 English physician, biologist, philosopher and historian Sir Thomas Browne discovers adipocere. What he describes as a fatty, waxy, soap-like substance formed on human corpses buried in moist, air-free places.
1686 Professor of anatomy Marcello Malpighi notes I his treaties the ridges, spirals and loops in fingerprints.
1775 Karl Wilhelm Scheele discovers he can change arsenious oxide into arsenious acid, which in contact with zinc produces arsine. This later plays a great part in the forensic detection of arsenic.
1786 John Toms of Lancaster, England is convicted of murder on the basis of a torn wad of paper found in a pistol matching a remaining piece in his pocket. One of the first documented uses of physical matching.
1800s English naturalist Thomas Bewick uses engravings of his own fingerprints to identify books he publishes.
1810 In return for a suspension of arrest and jail sentence, Eugene Francois Vidocq makes a deal with the police to establish the first detective force, the Surete of Paris.
1810 In Germany, the first documented use of question document analysis occurs. A chemical test for a particular ink dye is applied to a document known as the Konigin Hanschritt.
1813 Mathiew Orfila publishes his toxicology book and is considered the father of forensic toxicology.
1817 T. Bateman first describes senile ecchymoses when he notes dark purple blotches and determines that they are due to the extravasation of blood into the dermal tissues.
1823 Anatomy professor John Evangelist Purkinji publishes his thesis discussing 9 fingerprint patterns.
1828 William Nicol invents the polarizing light microscope (Nicol Prism).
1829 Sir Robert Christison publishes Treatise on Poisons, which is for many years regarded as the standard work on toxicology.
1829 Thomas Bell first describes pink teeth and assumes they are pathognomonic of hanging or drowning.
1830s Adolphe Quetelet of Belgium proves the foundation of Bertillons work by stating his belief that no two human bodies are exactly alike.
1831 Leuchs first notes amylase activity in human saliva.
1835 Henry Goddard of Scotland Yard first uses bullet comparison to catch a murderer. The comparison was based in a visible flaw in the bullet, traced back to a mold.
1836 English chemist James Marsh develops a test for the presence of arsenic in tissues, known as the Marsh Test, and is the first to use toxicology in a jury trial.
1839 Dr John Davy recounts experiments with dead soldiers using a mercury thermometer. One of the first attempts to determine time since death using body temperature.
1839 H. Baynard publishes the first reliable procedures for the microscopic detection of sperm, and notes the different microscopic characteristics of various different substrate fabrics.
1851 Jean Servais Stas, a chemistry professor from Brussels, is the first to successfully identify vegetable poisons in body tissues.
1851 Britain passes an arsenic act, attempting to control availability of the poison, which is commonly being used in murder.
1853 Ludwig Teichmann of Poland develops the first microscopic crystal test for haemoglobin using hemin crystals.
1854 English physician Massox develops dry plate photography. This was used in photographaing inmates for prison records.
1855 Ambroise August Tardieu first draws attention to petechial haemorrhages occurring in asphyxial deaths.
1856 Sir William Herschel uses thumbprints on documents both as a substitute for written signatures and to verify document signatures.
1862 Dutch scientist J. Izaak Van Deen develops a presumptive blood test using the West Indian shrub guaiac.
1863 Taylor and Wilkes write a paper on the determination of time since death from fall in body temperature, introducing many current concepts.
1863 German scientist Schonbein first discovers the ability of haemoglobin to oxidise hydrogen peroxide, making it foam. This results in the first presumptive test for blood.
1864 Odelbrecht first advocates the use of photography for the identification of criminals and the documentation of evidence and crime scenes.
1877 Thomas Taylor suggests that markings of the palms of hands and tips of fingers could be used for identification in criminal cases.
1879 German pathologist Rudolph Virchow is one of the first to study hair and recognise its limitations.
1880 Henry Faulds of Scotland publishes a paper suggesting fingerprints at the scene of a crime could identify the offender. Faulds uses fingerprints to eliminate an innocent suspect and indicate a perpetrator in a Tokyo burglary.
1880 Burman uses temperature graphs to determine time since death.
1882 Gilbert Thompson puts his own thumbprint on wage chits to safeguard himself from forgeries.
1883 Alphonse Bertillon identifies the first repeat offender based on his invention of anthropometry.
1887 Arthur Conan Doyle publishes his first Sherlock Holmes story.
1889 Forensic medicine professor Alexandre Lacassagne attempts to individualise bullets to a gin barrel, based on the number of lands and grooves.
1891 Austrian Hans Gross publishes Criminal Investigations, the first description of the uses of physical evidence in solving crimes.
1892 Sir Francis Galton publishes his book Fingerprints, establishing the individuality of fingerprints and a first classification system.
1892 Juan Vucetich develops the fingerprint classification system that comes to be used in Latin America.
1894 Alfred Dreyfus of France is convicted of treason based on a mistaken handwriting identification of Bertillon.
1896 Sir Edward Richard Henry develops the print classification system that would later be used in Europe and North America.
1898 Forensic chemist Paul Jesrich takes photomicrographs of two bullets to compare and individualise the minutae.
1901 Karl Landsteiner discovers human blood group. Max Richter adapts the technique to type stains.
1901 German immunologist Paul Uhlenhuth develops the precipiten test for species.
1901 Sir Edward Richard Henry is appointed head of Scotland Yard and forces fingerprint identification to replace anthropometry.
1901 Henry P. DeForrest pioneers the first systematic use of fingerprints in the US by the New York Civil Service Commission.
1901 Leone Lattes discovers that blood can be grouped into different categories.
1902 Professor R. A. Reiss sets up one of the first academic curricula in forensic sciences.
1902 R. Fischer describes the system of furrows on the red part of human lips, which is later to form a basic for cheiloscopy.
1903 The NY States Prison system begins the first systematic use of fingerprints in the US for criminal identification.
1903 At a Kansas penitentiary, new inmate Will West is initially confused with a resident convict using anthropometry.
1904 Oskar and Rudolf Adler develop a presumptive test for blood based on benzidine.
1904 Revenstorf conceives the idea that diatoms could be used as a test of distinguishing ante-mortem from post-mortem drowning.
1904 Georg Popp uses geological evidence in a criminal case for the first time.
1905 US president Theodore Roosevelt establishes the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
1910 Edmond Locard establishes the first police crime laboratory in Lyon.
1910 Professor of medicine Victor Balthazard publishes the first comprehensive hair stuffy.
1910 Albert S. Osborne publishes Questioned Documents.
1912 Massaeo Takayama develops another microscopic crystal test for haemoglobin using hemochromogen crystals.
1913 J. J. Thomson builds the first mass spectrometer, known as the hyperbola spectrograph.
1913 Victor Balthazard publishes the first article on individualising bullet markings.
1915 Professor Leone Lattes develops the first antibody test for ABO blood types.
1915 The International Association for Criminal Identification was organised in Oakland, California. It later becomes the International Association of Identification (IAI).
1916 Albert Schneider of Berkley, California first uses a vacuum apparatus to collect trace evidence.
1918 Edmond Locard suggests 12 matching points as a positive fingerprint identification.
1920s Georg Popp pioneers the use of botanical identification in forensics.
1920s American criminalist Luke May pioneers striation analysis in tool mark comparison.
1920s Calvin Goddard, with others, perfects the comparison microscope for use in bullet comparison.
1920 Charles E. Waite is the first to catalogue manufacturing data about weapons.
1920 Edmond Locard announces the Locards Exchange Principle.
1921 John Larson and Leonard Keeler design the portable polygraph.
1921 Schuller suggests frontal sinuses can be used for identification.
1923 Vittorio Siracusa develops the absorption-elution tests for ABO blood typing of stains.
1923 In the case Frye v. US, polygraph test results are ruled inadmissible.
1924 August Vollmer of LA, California implements the first US crime laboratory.
1925 Japanese scientist Saburo Sirai is credited with the first recognition of secretion of group-specific antigens into body fluids other than blood.
1927 Landsteiner and Levine first detect the M, N and P blood factors leading to the development of the MNSs and P typing systems.
1928 Meuller is the first medico-legal investigator to suggest the identification of salivary amylase as a presumptive test for salivary stains.
1929 Japanese scientist K. I. Yosida conducts the first comprehensive investigation establishing the existence of serological isoantibodies in body fluids other than blood.
1931 Franz Josef Holzer develops the absorption-inhibition AB typing techniques that became the basis of that commonly used in forensic laboratories.
1932 The FBI crime laboratory is created.
1933 Teodoro Gonzales introduces the diphenyl-amine test (or Dermal Nitrate in the US to detect GSR.
1935 Dutch physicist Frits Zernike invents the first interference contrast microscope.
1935 Establishment of the first British forensics lab, in Hendon.
1937 Walter Specht develops the chemiluminescent reagent luminal as a presumptive test for blood.
1937 Holzer publishes the first paper addressing the usefulness of secretor status for forensic applications.
1938 M. Polonovski and M. Jayle first identify haptoglobin.
1940 Vincent Hnizda was probably the first to analyse ignitable fluid.
1940 Landsteiner and A. S. Weiner first described Rh blood groups.
1940s Dental records are compared with teeth from corpses.
1941 Murray Hill initiates the study voiceprint identification.
1945 Frank Lundquist develops the acid phosphatase test for semen.
1946 Mourant first describes the Lewis blood group system.
1946 R. R. Race describes the Kell blood group system.
1950 Max Frei-Sulzer develops the tape lift method of collecting trace evidence.
1950 M. Cutbush and colleagues first describe the Duffy blood group system.
1950 The American Academy of Forensic Science (AAFS) is formed.
1950 August Vollmer of California establishes the school of criminology and UC Berkley.
1950 Max Frei-Sulzer develops the tape-life method of collecting trace evidence.
1951 F. H. Allen and colleagues first describe the Kidd blood grouping system.
1953 Kirk publishes Crime Investigation, one of the first comprehensive criminalistics and crime investigation texts that encompassed theory in addition to practice.
1953 James Watson and Francis Crick publish a landmark paper identifying the structure of DNA.
1954 R. F. Borkenstein invents the Breathalyzer for field sobriety testing.
1955 De Saram publishes measurements of temperature I cases obtained from executed prisoners. The papers are considered landmarks in determination of time since death from body cooling.
1957 Mocker and Stewart develop skeletal growth stages.
1958 A. S. Weiner and colleagues introduce the use of H-lectin to determine positively O blood type.
1959 Hirshfeld first identifies the polymorphic nature of group specific component (Gc).
1959 Harrison and Gilroy introduce a qualitative colorimetric chemical test to detect the presence of barium, antimony and lead on the hands of individuals who fired a firearm.
1960s Maurice Muller adapts the Ouchterlony antibody-antigen diffusion test for precipiten testing to determine species.
1960 Lucas describes the application of gas chromatography to the identification of petroleum products in the forensic laboratory and discusses potential limitations of the brand identity of gasoline.
1963 D. A. Hopkinson and colleagues first identify the polymorphic nature of erythrocytes acid phosphatase (EAP).
1964 R. A. Fildes and H. Harris first identify the polymorphic nature of red cell adenylate cryclase (AK).
1966 Brian J. Culliford and Brian Wraxall develop the immunoelectrophoretic technique for haptoglobin typing in bloodstains.
1967 Culliford, of the British Metropolitan Police Laboratory, initiates the development of gel-based methods to test for isoenzymes in dried bloodstains.
1968 Spencer and colleagues first identify the polymorphic nature of red cell adenosine deaminase (ADA).
1971 Culliford publishes The Examination and Typing of Bloodstains in the Crime Laboratory.
1973 Hopkinson and colleagues first identify the polymorphic nature of esterase D (ESD).
1974 The detection of gunshot residue using scanning electron microscopy with electron dispersive X-rays technology is developed at Aerospace Corporation.
1975 J. Kompf and colleague first identify the polymorphic nature of rec cell glyoxlase (GLO).
1975 The Federal rules of Evidence are enacted as a congressional statute, based on the relevancy standard in which scientific evidence that is deemed more prejudicial than probative may not be admitted.
1976 Zoro and Hadley first use GC-MS for forensic purposes.
1977 The FBI introduces the beginnings of its Automated Fingerprint Idrntification System (AFIS) with first computerised scans of fingerprints.
1977 Fuseo Matsummur notices his own fingerprints developing on microscope slides, and relates the information to co-worker Masato Soba, who would later be the first to develop latent prints using Superglue fuming.
1978 Brian Wraxall and Mark Stolorow develop the multisystem method for testing the PGM, ESD, and GLO isoenzyme systems simultaneously. They also develop methods for typing blood serum proteins.
1978 ESDA (electrostatic document analysis) is developed for obtaining document impressions.
1980 American geneticists discover a region of DNA that does not hold any genetic information and is extremely variable between individuals.
1984 Sir Alec Jeffreys discovers a method of identifying individuals from DNA Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP), dubbed DNA Fingerprinting.
1985 UK police first use forensic DNA profiling.
1986 Kerry Mullis discovers Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method of replicating particular regions of a DNA molecule.
1986 DNA is used for the first time to solve a crime. Jeffreys uses DNA profiling to identify Colin Pitchfork as the murderer of two young girls in the English Midlands.
1986 The human genetic group at Cetus Corporation develop the PCR technique for a number of clinical and forensic applications, resulting in the development of the first commercial PCR typing kit specifically for forensic use.
1987 DNA profiling is introduced for the first time in a US criminal court.
1988 Milestone papers are published introducing a novel procedure for the analysis of drugs in whole blood by homogenous enzyme immunoassay (EMIT).
1991 The Forensic Science Service becomes an executive body.
1991 Walsh Automation Inc., launch development of an automated imaging system called the Integrated Ballistics Identification System for comparison of the marks left on fired bullets, cartridge cases, and shell casings.
1992 The FBI helps develop Drugfire, an automated imaging system to compare marks left on cartridge cases and shell casings.
1992 Thomas Caskey can colleagues publish the first paper suggesting the use of short tandem repeats for forensic DNA analysis.
1995 The worlds first national DNA database commences operations in the UK.
1996 The FBI introduce computerised searches of AFIS.
1996 Mitochondria DNA evidence is used in court for the first time in the US.
1996 Police establish the National Criminal DNA Database in the UK.
1998 An FBI DNA database, NIDIS, is put into practice.
2007 The Forensic Science Service launches the UKs first online footwear coding and detection management system, Footwear Intelligence Technology.