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Our Timeline 1849 - Present
We've come a long way. Journey through Pfizer's history from the first storefront to the beaches at Normandy to the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1849, cousins Charles Pfizer and Charles Erhart founded Charles Pfizer & Company in a red brick building in Brooklyn, NY.
Anderson, who had joined Pfizer in 1873 as a 16-year-old office boy, would remain Chairman until 1929.
Spurred by this invention, Kane goes on to develop a new deep-tank fermentation method using molasses rather than refined sugar as raw material—the process that will ultimately unlock the secret for large-scale production of penicillin.
A celebration at the Brooklyn plant, which has 306 employees, marks the milestone.
Alexander Fleming discovers the antibiotic properties of the penicillin mold, an event destined to make medical history and to change the course of Pfizer´s future.
William Erhart (right) is named the new chairman, Emile Pfizer continues to serve as president, and John Anderson's son, George, becomes senior vice president.
Encouraged by this success, Pfizer pushes ahead in 1938 with production of vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, and eventually develops a vitamin mix that includes riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and iron. From vitamin B-12, the company moves on to vitamin A, and by the late 1940s, Pfizer will become the established leader in the manufacture of vitamins.
Pfizer succeeds so well in the production of citric acid by fermenting sugar that a pound of citric acid, which had cost $1.25 in 1919, tumbles to 20¢, and Pfizer is widely recognized as a leader in fermentation technology.
In a risky maneuver, Pfizer's senior management invests millions of dollars, putting their own assets as Pfizer stockholders at stake, to buy the equipment and facilities needed for this novel process of deep-tank fermentation. Pfizer purchases a nearby vacant ice plant, and employees work around the clock to convert it and perfect the complex production process. In just four months, Pfizer is producing five times more penicillin than originally anticipated. Penicillin is a turning point in human history—the first real defense against bacterial infection.
Most of the penicillin that goes ashore with Allied forces on D-Day is made by Pfizer. The company's contribution to the war effort is heralded nationwide and earns Pfizer the coveted Army-Navy "E" Award on April 17, 1943.
John L. Smith fills the office of President.