Named after the Swedish chemist, engineer and businessman who invented dynamite, the Nobel Prizes were established with the fortune he left as a donation upon his death on December 10, 1896, and are bestowed annually in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The inventor’s will bequeathed 94% of his wealth towards the establishment of 5 prizes (Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and a Peace Prize), which were to be awarded by 5 specific institutions to those who “during the preceding year conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”.
Nobel’s testamentary dispositions stirred controversy, with the appointed organizations accepting the responsibility after considerable deliberation and awarding the first prizes only 5 years later. The sixth Nobel Prize (in Economics) was established in 1968 by Swedish central bank Sveriges Riksbank through a donation in memory of Alfred Nobel.
To celebrate the upcoming edition of the Nobel Prize Ceremony, we have created a timeline which pinpoints a series of significant milestones in the history of the event.
Unlike the current practice of announcing the annual laureates well ahead of the ceremony date, the inaugural edition kept the winners’ names undisclosed until the very day of awarding the prizes. These were:
- German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who discovered X-rays, was the laureate of the first Nobel Prize in Physics;
- Dutch physical chemist Jacobus H. van ‘t Hoff, explaining the importance of osmotic pressure in plant and animal life, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry;
- Emil von Behring was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of a diphtheria antitoxin;
- Retired French engineer turned into poet Sully Prudhomme won the first Nobel Prize in Literature;
- Swiss social activist Henry Dunant, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross, shared the first Nobel Peace Prize with international pacifist Frédéric Passy.
The Nobel Prize chronology was built with Office Timeline, an intuitive PowerPoint add-in which helps you create professional-looking timelines and Gantt charts with ease. The slide is free to download and share and can be updated or restyled using Office Timeline Plus Edition.
Download the Nobel Prize Timeline for PowerPoint here.