Owing to the fact that certain germs, notably the Bacillus coli, have specific action on lactose, breaking it up with the formation of gas when they come in contact with it in culture mediums, it has been the custom for a number of years to use a culture medium having lactose as one of its constituents as a means of testing germs for their sugar-breaking property. A number of containers for the culture mediums have been used, the first of which Smith1 described in 1889. This bears his name, and has been the one most generally in use until the last few years.
In 1899, Hill2 suggested a modification of Smith's tube, which consisted of a tightly fitting ground glass stopper with which to close the long arm.
Both Smith's and Hill's tubes, however, were expensive, bulky and hard to clean; hence, when Durham,3 in 1900, described
Graves KD. AN IMPROVED MODIFICATION OF THE DURHAM FERMENTATION TUBE. JAMA. 1917;LXIX(25):2102–2103. doi:10.1001/jama.1917.25910520001011