In 1888 at the age of 30, Wallace Abbott (1857–1921), an 1885 graduate of the University of Michigan, founded the Abbott Alkaloidal Company in Ravenswood, Chicago. At the time, he was a practicing physician and owned a drug store. As did other physicians of the time, Dr. Abbott commonly prescribed morphine, quinine, strychnine, and codeine--all of which were liquid alkaloid extracts--for his patients.
Because they existed only in a liquid form, these drugs were prone to spoilage over time, mitigating their effectiveness as treatments. In 1888, Dr. Abbott heard that a Belgian surgeon had developed alkaloids in solid form. Alkaloid pills soon became available in Chicago, but Dr. Abbott was dissatisfied with their quality, and he decided to manufacture his own.
Dr. Abbott began to advertise his products to other doctors in 1891. So successful was his business that he eventually sold shares to other doctors and incorporated his operation in 1900 as the Abbott Alkaloidal Company. By 1905, annual sales had grown to $200,000. Ten years later, the company changed its name to Abbott Laboratories.
After the war, Abbott continued to concentrate on the research and development of new drugs. In 1921, the company established a laboratory in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, which developed a number of new drugs, including sedatives, tranquilizers, and vitamins. Even after Dr. Abbott's death that year, the company continued to invest heavily in new product development and aggressive marketing campaigns. The company went public in 1929 with a listing on the Chicago Stock Exchange. Two years later, Abbott expanded outside the United States for the first time with the establishment of an affiliate in Montreal, Canada.
In 1964 Abbott completed the first major acquisition in company history when it purchased Columbus, Ohio-based M & R Dietetic Laboratories. M & R was the manufacturer of Similac baby formula and over the succeeding decades, as the company's Ross Products Division, formed the basis for Abbott's market-leading infant and adult nutritionals business.
In 1965, Abbott's expansion in Europe continued with offices in Italy and France. Abbott Laboratories has been present in India for over 100 years through its subsidiary Abbott India Limited and it is currently India's largest healthcare products company.
Today, the company sells medical devices, diagnostics, branded generic medicines and nutritional products. It split off its research-based pharmaceuticals business into AbbVie in 2013.
Among its well-known products across the medical devices, diagnostics, and nutrition product divisions are Pedialyte, Similac, Ensure, Glucerna, ZonePerfect, FreeStyle Libre, i-STAT and MitraClip. Abbott operates in over 160 countries.
According to en.wikipedia and referenceforbusiness.com