BD History

Maxwell W. Becton and Fairleigh S. Dickinson

1897 - The Beginning - View Video

Maxwell W. Becton and Fairleigh S. Dickinson met on a sales trip in 1897. Months later, they decided to go into business together, sealing their partnership with a handshake. They named their medical device import company Becton, Dickinson and Company.

first sale

First Sale

On October 8, Becton made what is believed to be the company's first sale — a Luer all-glass syringe that sold for $2.50.


1898 - The First Patent

For $40.00, BD acquired a half interest in the patent rights to an all-glass syringe developed by H. Wulfing Luer of Paris, France.

BD logo

1899 - First Logo - View Video

The founders chose BD as a trademark for their Company. Over the years the BD name appeared in a wide variety of formats. 100 years later a new logo was adopted as an integral element in the Corporate Identity Program.

1904 - First Acquisition

Acquiring the Philadelphia Surgical Company enabled BD to manufacture its own surgical instruments. This and other early acquisitions expanded the Company's catalog of quality products and brought the talents and manufacturing expertise of new people to BD.

East Rutherford, NJ manufacturing facility

1906 - Incorporated

The Company incorporated in the State of New Jersey and created a manufacturing facility in East Rutherford, the first in the U.S. built specifically for producing thermometers, hypodermic needles and syringes.

ACE® bandage

1913 - Made in America - View Video

Oscar O. R. Schwidetzky merged his Surgical Supply Import Company with BD, bringing with him the Asepto™ Bulb Syringe and helping to develop the American-made ACE® bandage, a brand name for "All Cotton Elastic."

Andrew W. Fleischer

1921 - Modern Stethoscope

Andrew W. "Doc" Fleischer, developer of the mercurial sphygmomanometer to measure blood pressure, merged his company with BD and then spent his long career developing and refining the stethoscope and other medical instruments.

insulin syringe

1924 - First Insulin Syringe

BD manufactured its first syringe made specifically for insulin injection. This development marked the beginning of the Company's history in diabetes care.

BD Yale Luer-Lok™ Syringe

1925 - BD Yale Luer-Lok™ Syringe

BD introduced the BD Yale Luer-Lok™ Syringe, designed and patented by Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Sr. It provided a simple, secure method of attaching and removing a needle to and from a syringe. Today, luer lock connectors are the standard for syringes in the U.S.

1934 - Innovative Selling

Hired to stimulate sagging sales, Edward T.T. Williams revolutionized sales techniques and expanded the Company's customer base. He later served as Chairman of the Board from 1965 to 1967.

Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr. and Henry P. Becton

1948 - New Leadership - View Video

Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr. and Henry P. Becton, sons of the founders, took over company leadership as President and Vice President, respectively. During their 24-year tenure, BD expanded worldwide, made the successful transition to sterile disposable products and became a public company.

Multifit syringe

1949 - BD Vacutainer System

Joseph Kleiner, hired by BD for his Multifit syringe with interchangeable parts, also brought with him a concept called the Evacutainer — a device to draw blood by vacuum through a needle into a test tube. The product, patented in 1949, evolved to become the BD Vacutainer® Blood Collection System.

Wesley J. Howe

Wesley J. Howe

Wesley J. "Jack" Howe joined BD. He was to play a key role in developing sterility control procedures and refining the process for manufacturing disposable needles and syringes. Howe became Chairman, President and CEO in 1980.

Heading West - View Video

Columbus, Nebraska became the first BD manufacturing site established outside of New Jersey.

blood collection set

1950 - First Sterile Disposable Product - View Video

BD's first sterile disposable product was a blood collection set developed and sold to the American Red Cross. Efforts to secure a niche in the disposables market continued through the '50s and into the early '60s. BD was the only syringe manufacturer of its day to survive the transition from reusable to disposable medical devices.

1951 - Canada

BD acquired the Norman S. Wright Company, its Toronto-based Canadian distributor. The formation of BD Canada, Ltd. marked the beginning of BD's international expansion.

1952 - Mexico

BD acquired MAPAD, S.A. de C.V., based in Mexico City, to produce syringes, needles, and clinical thermometers for the Mexican market.

1953 - France

BD acquired a plant in Pont-de-Claix from AMI (Applications Mecaniques Industrielles), a company that manufactured reusable hypodermic needles. Two years later, BD acquired a 75% interest in AMI. In 1958, the Company established BD France, S.A.

polio vaccine trials

1954 - Salk Polio Trials

BD produced the first completely disposable syringe, the BD Hypak™ Syringe, for use in a large-scale field test of the polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

1955 - Baltimore Biological Laboratory (BBL)

The acquisition of the Baltimore Biological Laboratory marked BD’s entry into the diagnostic products business.

1956 - Brazil

BD opened its first manufacturing facility in South America in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. The Company opened a second plant in Curitiba in 1983. BD, which also has offices in São Paulo, is now the largest medical supply company in Brazil.


BD merged with the Bard-Parker Company, known for its history of innovation in the manufacture of surgical blades and knives. Morgan Parker served as Chairman of the BD Board from 1956 to 1964. BD divested the surgical blades business in 2010.

1957 - Single-use IV Catheter

BD introduced the BD Intracath™ IV Catheter, the first sterile, disposable, through-the-needle IV catheter designed for single use on the market.

Puerto Rico

BD opened a manufacturing facility in Juncos, Puerto Rico. A plant in Las Piedras was acquired in 1972. Additional facilities came onstream in Cayey in 1982 and in San Lorenzo in 1984. In 2007, BD opened a new facility for BD Biosciences in Cayey.

1959 - Disposable Labware

The first major milestone in the history of what is now Discovery Labware, a unit of BD Biosciences, was the acquisition of the Falcon Plastics Company, a pioneer in the manufacture of disposable plastic labware.

1960 - Broken Bow, Nebraska

A new BD facility, the second in Nebraska, opened with 55 employees in a 13,753-sq. ft. building producing 10 types of glass and plastic blood collection tubes, along with other specialty products. After 11 expansions, BD in Broken Bow now employs approximately 400 associates, making it the largest employer in Custer County. The facility produces BD Vacutainer® tubes and urine collection products.

BD Plastipak™ Syringe

1961 - The ‘Disposables Revolution’

After almost ten years of development and testing, BD introduced its first disposable BD Plastipak™ Syringe. In 1962, BD opened a new manufacturing facility in Canaan, Connecticut, dedicated to production of this new syringe.

1962 - A Public Company - View Video

To raise the capital required for the introduction of sterile disposable products, BD became a publicly held corporation, offering its stock at $25 per share. Sales were $54 million and net income $3 million.


BD opened its first manufacturing facility in Europe in Drogheda, Ireland. A second BD plant was opened in 1969 in Dun Laoghaire. A finance and accounting office was opened in Shannon in 1992.

1963 - BDX

BD was listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol: BDX.

1964 - New Technologies for Disease Diagnosis

BD acquired Clay-Adams., which was to contribute innovative diagnostic products such as the Accu-Stat™ Blood Chemistry Analyzer, precursor of the QBC™ Hematology System. The acquisition also brought two new members to the BD Board of Directors-- Marvin Asnes, who served as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1980 to 1983, and Harry Roth.

1965 - Radioimmunodiagnostics

With the acquisition of Schwarz BioResearch, BD entered the field of radioimmunodiagnostics. BD held a preeminent position in the radioimmunoassay field until the late ‘80s, when the Company began moving forward with fluorescence-activated and other types of nonradioactive assays.

1966 - Holdrege, Nebraska

BD opened a manufacturing facility in Holdrege Nebraska. It is now the world’s largest manufacturer of insulin syringes for diabetes.

1969 - Europe

BD - Europe was established, with headquarters in Grenoble, France. Guided by an ambitious 10-year plan, BD established offices in the Benelux countries (1970); Italy (1971); Germany and Switzerland (1972); Holland and Sweden (1973); followed by manufacturing plants in Germany, Spain (1979 and 1986), the U.K. (1982), Italy and Hungary (2010). In 1982, BD moved its European headquarters to Meylan, France.

1970 - Fortune 500

For the first time, FORTUNE magazine listed BD as one of the 500 largest American companies.

1971 - First Automated Blood Culture System

The BD BACTEC™ model 225, (produced by Johnston Labs, which was acquired by BD in 1979) was made commercially available.

1972 - Innovative Diagnostic Tools

BD acquired Hynson, Westcott & Dunning, a century-old firm that focused on innovative research products and diagnostic tools.

1973 - First Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorter

Through licensing arrangements with Stanford University, BD manufactured the first fluorescence-activated cell-sorting system, pioneering the Company's involvement in flow cytometry for cellular analysis. Today, BD is a leader in this field.

Research Center

BD established the BD Research Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to help the Company meet FDA requirements, research improved manufacturing and process methods and serve as a window to future innovative technologies.


Wesley J. “Jack” Howe was named Chief Executive Officer. In 1980, he became Chairman of the Board, President and CEO. He retired in 1988.

1975 - BD Hypak™ Prefilled Syringes

A new patent was issued to Claude Imbert, Pharmaceutical Systems - Europe, for a prefilled syringe for injecting heparin, a blood thinner. Today, this product is the worldwide standard for glass prefillable drug delivery systems, combining high-quality design with accurate dosing and easy customization options.

1977 - Mountain View, California

BD opened a new facility in Mountain View for the manufacture of its innovative fluorescence-activated cell sorter. This location is now the headquarters of the BD Biosciences business segment.

The Takeover Barons of Wall Street

1978 - Independence

An unfriendly takeover attempt by a large oil company was successfully thwarted when the courts found that the transaction violated the law. BD continued to maintain its independence on behalf of shareholders and employees.

1979 - Automated Blood Culture System

BD acquired Johnston Laboratories, Inc (JLI), the Baltimore-based company that had developed what is now the BD BACTEC Microbial Detection Systems. JLI’s model 225 BACTEC was the first commercial instrument to automatically detect the growth of microorganisms in blood.


BD opened its first manufacturing facility in Spain. In 1986, the Company purchased Fabersanitas Industrial, a syringe manufacturer in Fraga.

1980 - First Automated System for Mycobacteria Testing

BD introduced the first automated system for mycobacteria testing, the BD BACTEC 460TB System.

Plymouth, U.K. facility

1981 - United Kingdom

A newly constructed facility in Plymouth, U.K. began manufacturing BD Vacutainer® System products to serve growing European markets. An expanded Plymouth facility now manufactures medical devices and diagnostic products that are exported to all regions of the world.

$1 Billion in Sales

Sales surpassed the $1 billion milestone. Nine years later, sales exceeded $2 billion.

1982 - Sharps Disposal Containers

BD was the first injection-device manufacturer to introduce a full line of plastic sharps disposal containers to address the growing concern about healthcare worker safety.

Vascular Access Devices

To build a leadership position in peripheral vascular access devices on a base of proprietary technology, BD acquired the Deseret Medical Company of Sandy, Utah.

BD in Asia

1987 - BD in Asia

Construction began for a new manufacturing facility for medical products in Singapore. One year later, BD opened a plant in Fukushima, Japan to manufacture diagnostic products.

BD Safety-Lok

1988 - First Safety-Engineered Syringe

BD became the first company to introduce a safety-engineered syringe—the BD Safety-Lok.

Beaver Blade Company

BD acquired the Beaver Blade Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, a renowned manufacturer of high-quality surgical blades. In 2010, BD divested the Ophthalmic Systems unit which manufactured Beaver blades.

1990 - Belgium

BD opened a central distribution center in Temse, Belgium to ship medical products throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. A second center began shipping diagnostic products in 1994.

1992 - BD Vacutainer Safety-Lok Blood Collection Set

BD introduced the BD Vacutainer® Safety-Lok™ Blood Collection Set, offering needlestick protection following blood-drawing procedure

Raymond V. Gilmartin

Raymond V. Gilmartin had joined BD in 1976, bringing his talent for strategic planning. He became Chairman, President and CEO in 1992, departing BD in 1994 to head Merck & Co.

Franklin Lakes, NJ headquarters

New BD Headquarters - View Video

BD moved its corporate headquarters from the Company’s original location in East Rutherford, New Jersey to an award-winning facility in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Clateo Castellini

1994 - Clateo Castellini

Clateo Castellini, who joined the Company in 1978 and worked overseas for several years, was named Chairman, President and CEO. BD's revenues that year were $2.6 billion with nearly half coming from operations outside the U.S.

BD in Asia

1995 - China and India

A joint venture was established in China to produce medical products for China and other markets. In India, a subsidiary was formed to manufacture insulin syringes and to market other medical and diagnostic products.

1996 - China

BD opened a manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China.

1997 - Toward Our Second Century - View Video

In 1997, BD celebrated its first 100 years — reflecting on past accomplishments and focusing on new opportunities on the horizon.

Difco Laboratories

BD acquired Difco Laboratories, a manufacturer of media and supplies for industrial microbiology.

BD logo

1999 - New BD Corporate Identity

BD implemented a new worldwide identity, building on its 100-year foundation of quality, reliability and commitment to customers and business partners around the world. With a new corporate identity, BD renewed its commitment to Helping all people live healthy lives.
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Edward J. Ludwig

Edward J. Ludwig Named President

Edward J. Ludwig was named President of BD. In January, 2000 he was also named Chief Executive Officer.
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BD entered into a long-term partnership with UNICEF and the US Fund for UNICEF to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus worldwide.
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healthcare worker safety program

Healthcare Worker Safety

BD launched the BD Safety Compliance Initiative, a nationwide education program to raise awareness about the risk of accidental needlesticks and to help healthcare institutions comply with federal mandates for safety-engineered devices.
BD Safety Compliance Initiative

2001 - Gentest Corporation

BD acquired Gentest Corporation, a leader in drug metabolism and toxicology testing of drugs under development.

2002 - Ludwig Named Board Chairman

Edward J. Ludwig was named Chairman of the Board of Directors.
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$1 Million for AIDS Vaccine

BD pledged $1 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI). This public-private partnership helps ensure that promising candidates for a vaccine to prevent AIDS advance rapidly through human testing and that developing countries have the supplies and training needed to conduct their own vaccine trials.

BD One of 'America's Most Admired Companies'

FORTUNE magazine recognized BD as one of "America's Most Admired Companies" for the first time. BD strengthened its position to third overall in the medical products and equipment industry and received the industry's top ranking for quality of products and services.

2003 - Trusted Partners Campaign

BD embarked upon a global communications campaign highlighting its 100-year history of Helping all people live healthy lives.
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BD FACSAria™ Cell Sorter

BD FACSAria™ Cell Sorter

BD Biosciences launched the BD FACSAria™ Cell Sorter, the first entirely new instrument in the next-generation portfolio of flow cytometers.

BD FACSAria™ Cell Sorter

BD Accuspray™ Nasal Spray System

The BD Accuspray™ Nasal Drug Delivery System for administering FluMist® influenza virus vaccine became the first FDA-approved nasal spray flu vaccine.

Affordable CD4 Testing for HIV/AIDS

BD entered into an agreement with The William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to provide affordable CD4 testing for HIV/AIDS to many countries in the developing world.

Atto Bioscience

BD acquired Atto Bioscience, a Maryland-based manufacturer of optical instrumentation, software and reagents for real-time analysis of interactions taking place in living cells.
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2005 - Great Place to Work

BD first appeared on the list of “Best Places to Work in New Jersey,’ assembled by NJBIZ magazine.

Dow Jones Sustainability Index

BD was first selected as a component of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America; it has been included on the list ever since. Since 2007, the Company has also been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

BD associates

BD Volunteer Service Program

BD associates traveled to Africa in the first of a series of BD-sponsored efforts that combine contributions of cash and product with volunteer work to improve healthcare in remote locations.

2006 - Rapid Detection of Bacterial Organisms

The acquisition of GeneOhm, a pioneer in the development of molecular diagnostic testing for the rapid detection of bacterial organisms, positioned BD to become a leader in the prevention of the global healthcare problem of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
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Advanced Cancer Diagnostics

The acquisition of TriPath Imaging expanded BD's presence in cancer diagnostics and represented a key element in the strategy to drive growth through innovation.
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2007 - BD Among Most Ethical Companies

Ethisphere magazine included BD in its inaugural listing of the World’s Most Ethical Companies; BD has remained on this annual list since then.

Plasma Polymerization Technology

BD acquired Plasso Technology, Ltd. and its plasma polymerization technology, which enables the development of next-generation surfaces for application in life science research.

2008 - Advanced Flow-Cytometry Technologies

BD acquired Cytopeia, a developer of advanced flow-cytometry cell-sorting instruments.
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New Manufacturing Center in Quebec

BD opened the new BD Diagnostics – GeneOhm manufacturing facility in Quebec. It will also serve as a center of research and development for BD’s rapid molecular diagnostic products.
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Vincent A. Forlenza

2009 - Forlenza Becomes BD President

Vincent A. Forlenza, who joined BD in 1980, assumed the position of BD President. In July 2010, he was also named Chief Operating Officer, with Edward J. Ludwig continuing to serve as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board.
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Joint Initiative With PEPFAR

BD launched a public-private partnership with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to help improve blood-drawing practices in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Home Healthcare Product Line Divested

BD sold the assets associated with the Home Healthcare product line to 3M, including product inventory, brand names and manufacturing associated with ACE®, Tensor®, Bauer & Black® and Tru-Fit® products, and thermometers.

2010 - Hungary

BD opened its first production facility in Tatabánya, Hungary. The BD Medical - Pharmaceutical Systems facility will manufacture prefillable syringes to be sold to pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms for use with their injectable drugs.


BD acquired HandyLab, Inc., a developer and manufacturer of molecular diagnostic assays and automation platforms.

New Facility in Mexico

BD celebrated the opening of a new production facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The Company first established operations in Mexico in 1957. Its other facilities are in Cuautitlán Izcalli, in the State of México; Nogales, Sonora; and Mexico City.

Ophthalmic Systems Unit Divested

BD divested certain assets of its BD Medical segment, including the Ophthalmic Systems unit and the surgical blades, critical care and extended-dwell catheter product platforms of the Medical Surgical Systems unit.

Bioscience Production Facility in Miami

A new BD Biosciences - Advanced Bioprocessing AF2™ Production Facility in Miami, Florida is the industry’s first fully dedicated, stand-alone "antibiotic-free" and "animal-free" facility for producing high-quality cell culture media and supplements used in the production of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals.

2011 - Personal Flow Cytometers

BD acquired Accuri Cytometers, Inc., which develops and manufactures personal flow cytometers for researchers. The acquisition expands BD’s presence into the emerging affordable personal flow cytometer space.

Carmel Pharma

BD acquired Carmel Pharma, AB, based in Sweden, which manufactures the BD PhaSeal™ System, the leading closed-system drug transfer device for the safe handling of hazardous drugs that are packaged in vials. The acquisition expands the scope of BD’s healthcare worker safety emphasis, especially in the area of parenteral medication delivery.

BD Recharge™ Supplement

BD Biosciences launched BD Recharge™, a chemically defined (CD) cell-culture media supplement for biopharmaceutical manufacturing that offers productivity comparable to yeast-based peptones.

BD Emerald™ Syringe

BD Medical launched the BD Emerald™ Syringe portfolio, designed to meet emerging needs in medication delivery while helping to address environmental impact by reducing medical waste effects.

BD in San Antonio

BD opened a new North American Professional Shared Service Center in San Antonio, Texas. The facility provides various services, including finance, procurement, human resources, supply chain and customer services for its North American operations.

2012 - Kiestra

BD acquired KIESTRA Lab Automation BV, a Netherlands-based company that designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells innovative automation solutions for the microbiology lab.

BD in Fair Oaks, NC

BD opened a new 720,000-square-foot distribution center in Four Oaks, North Carolina. Designed to minimize its environmental impact, the Four Oaks site is the Company’s first distribution center to be awarded LEED Gold Certification.

Ludwig Retires

Edward J. Ludwig, BD’s former Chairman, President and CEO, retired after a 33-year career with the Company.

Majority of Discovery Labware Unit Sold

BD sold its BD Biosciences - Discovery Labware unit, excluding its Advanced Bioprocessing platform, to Corning Incorporated, the world leader in specialty glass and ceramics.

Third Manufacturing Plant in Suzhou

Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) opened a new facility focusing on products from BD Medical Surgical Systems, Diabetes Care and Diagnostic Systems. This is the third BD facility in SIP, following the facility to support BD Diagnostics in 2008 and the facility to support the BD Medical business in 1996.

2013 - BD Simplist™ ready-to-administer prefilled generic injectables

BD Entered the pharmaceutical industry with a new line of generic prefilled injectable products. BD Simplist prefilled injectables will be commercialized and manufactured by BD Rx Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of BD. The first BD Simplist product to be launched will be Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride Injection, USP, an injectable antihistamine.

2014 - Alverix

BD acquired Alverix, Inc., a diagnostic instrument company known for its optoelectronics expertise.

FluMist® is a registered trademark Medimmune Vaccines, Inc.