Timeline of the Atom

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Democritus

460 BCE

First suggested the existence of atoms by speculating that matter is composed of elementary particles called atoms.

John Dalton

1803

Proposed the first modern atomic theory

James Maxwell

1873

Developed the electromagnetic wave theory (which came to be the classical theory of light).

Heinrich Hertz

1887

Experimentally proved Maxwell's electromagnetic wave theory, and discovered the photoelectric effect.

J.J. Thomson

1897

Provided evidence for the existence of the electron and developed what was to be known as the "plum-pudding" (or "blueberry muffin") model of the atom.

Max Planck

1900

Regarded as the founder of quantum theory. He studied the light emitted by hot objects and his experiments led him to hypothesize that energy could be gained or transferred in whole-number multiples.

Robert Millikan

1909

Determined the charge of an electron.

Ernest Rutherford

1911

Disproved Thomson's model of the atom, and established his own more accurate model of the atom, which states that an atom has a nucleus, which is a dense, positively charged atomic centre, that is surrounded by electrons moving around at a far distance.

Niels Bohr

1913

Developed a quantum model for the hydrogen atom, which became accepted as the most accurate model of the atom (before being proven to be incorrect), known as the Bohr model of the atom.