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July 16, 2008

JAMA Classics: Celebrating 125 Years of Publication

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr DeAngelis (cathy.deangelis@jama-archives.org) is Editor-in-Chief and Dr Fontanarosa is Executive Deputy Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2008;300(3):331. doi:10.1001/jama.300.3.331

This issue marks the 125th anniversary or quasquicentennial (we dare you to say that 3 times without getting tongue-tied) of JAMA, which began publication in 1883. In that year, Chester A. Arthur was the US president and the first telephone line connected New York and Chicago. In the 1883 world of biology and medicine, Robert Koch discovered the cholera bacillus and Georgios N. Papanikolaou, pioneer in cervical cytology, was born.

The first issue of JAMA, published on July 14, 1883 (Figure), included a wide range of articles that apparently were selected to be of interest to a general medical readership. These reports covered a wide range of topics, including tobacco smoking in children, blunt chest trauma, and neurological disorders. Other articles in that issue described therapeutic interventions, such as treatment of otorrhea and diabetes and surgical techniques. All of this information was available for 10 cents per issue ($5 for an annual subscription), with costs probably at least partially defrayed with advertisements (mostly for schools and books, but also for medicinal products) that also appeared in that issue. Some things change little over time.