44 B.C. – The first recorded autopsy was performed on a slain emperor. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Roman physician, Antistius, determined that of the twenty-three wounds inflicted, only one was fatal.
1000 (circa) – Quintilian, an attorney in the Roman courts, showed that bloody palm prints were meant to frame a blind man for his mother’s murder.
1248 – Hsi Duan Yu (The Washing Away of Wrongs) was published in China and is the first known guide to pathology. The book showed how to determine if a victim had drowned (water in the lungs) or was strangled (broken neck cartilage). It also provided details to determine if a death was accidental, suicide, or murder.
1609 – Army surgeon Ambroise Paré of France published a treatise on the effects of violent death on internal organs.
1686 – Marcello Malpighi, professor of anatomy at the University of Bologna, noted fingerprint characteristics by use of a microscope.
1784 – In England, John Toms was convicted of murder by matching a torn piece of paper used as wadding in a pistol to that of a piece of newspaper found in his pocket.
1776 – Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered a method to detect arsenic in corpses, but only in large quantities.
1806 – German chemist Valentin Ross discovered how to detect arsenic in a victim’s stomach.
1810 – Eugène François Vidocq, in return for a suspension of arrest and a jail sentence, made a deal with the police to establish the first detective force, the Sûreté of Paris.
1813 – Mathiew Orfila, a Spaniard and professor of medicinal/forensic chemistry at University of Paris, is credited with the first use of a microscope in the assessment of blood and semen stains.
1823 – John Evangelist Purkinji, a professor of anatomy at the University of Breslau, Prussia, published the first paper on the nature of fingerprints that suggested a classification system based on nine major types.
1835 – Henry Goddard of Scotland Yard, and one of the original Bow Street Runners, used bullet comparison to catch a murderer. His comparison was based on a visible flaw in the bullet which was traced back to a particular mold.
1836 – James Marsh, a Scottish chemist, used chemical processes (toxicology) to confirm arsenic as the cause of death in a murder trial. When the suspect was acquitted, he developed a better test, one capable of detecting as little as one-fiftieth of a milligram of arsenic.
1839 – Frenchman Henri-Louis Bayard published the first reliable procedures for the microscopic detection of sperm.
1851 – Jean Servais Stas, a chemistry professor from Brussels, was the first to successfully identify vegetable poisons in body tissue.
1851 – Britain passes the Arsenic Act which curbs access to arsenic.
1854 – Richard Leach Maddox, an English physician, developed dry plate photography, allowing for the photographing of inmates for prison records.
1856 – Sir William Herschel, a British officer working for the Indian Civil service, began to use thumbprints on documents, both as a substitute for written signatures for illiterates and to verify document signatures.
1863 – German scientist Christian Schönbein was the first to discover the ability of hemoglobin to oxidize hydrogen peroxide. This resulted in the first presumptive test for blood.
1880 – The British scientific journal Nature published studies by Englishmen Henry Faulds and William James Herschel describing the uniqueness of fingerprints.
1887 – The first Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle was published.
1888 – Chicago became the first U.S. city to adopt the Bertillon system of identification developed by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon which measures physical features and dimensions of certain bones. Bertillon’s goal was to use anthropometry as a way of identifying repeat offenders.
1892 – Francis Galton published Fingerprints, the first comprehensive book on the nature of fingerprints and their use in solving crime.
1894 – Alfred Dreyfus of France was convicted of treason based on a mistaken handwriting identification by Bertillon. In July 1906, Dreyfus was officially exonerated by a military commission. The day after his exoneration, he was readmitted into the army with a promotion to the rank of major.
1901 – Henry P. De Forrest pioneered the first systematic use of fingerprints in the United States by the New York Civil Service Commission.
1901 – The Galton-Henry system of fingerprint classification was officially introduced at Scotland Yard. (It had been developed in 1896.) It is the most widely used method of fingerprinting to date.
1901 – Austrian physician Karl Landsteiner published a paper detailing his discovery of the three main human blood groups: A, B, and C, which he later changed to O. He charted the regular pattern of reaction that occurs when mingling serum and red cells from an initial set of six blood specimens.
1903 – The New York State Prison system began the first systematic use of fingerprints in the United States for criminal identification.
1905 – President Theodore Roosevelt established the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
1910 – French forensics professors, Victor Balthazard and Marcelle Lambert, published the first comprehensive study on hair. Their findings helped to convict Frenchwoman Rosella Rousseau for the murder of Germaine Bichon in one of the first legal cases ever involving hair. Rousseau’s hair was found under Bichon’s fingernails.
1912 – Victor Balthazard discovered that every gun barrel leaves an individual set of grooves on each bullet fired through it. He devised several methods to match fired bullets to guns through photography.
1915 – Leone Lattes, professor at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Turin, Italy, developed the first antibody test for A, B, O blood groups. His findings were first used to resolve a marital dispute. He also published the first book dealing with heritability, paternity, and typing of dried stains. 
1916 – Albert Schneider of Berkeley, California first used a vacuum apparatus to collect trace evidence.
1918 – Edmond Locard, known as the Sherlock Holmes of France, first suggested 12 matching points as positive fingerprint identification and formulated the basic principle of forensic science: “Every contact leaves a trace.” This became known as Locard’s Exchange Principle.
1921 – John Larson and Leonard Keeler design the portable polygraph. In 1923, in Frye v. United States, polygraph test results were ruled inadmissible.
1924 – August Vollmer, Chief of Police in Los Angeles, California, implemented the first U.S. police crime laboratory.
1926 – The Sacco and Vanzetti case in Bridgewater, Massachusetts was responsible for popularizing the use of the comparison microscope for bullet comparison.
1928 – German investigator B. Müeller was the first medical-legal investigator to suggest the identification of salivary amlyase as a presumptive test for salivary stains.
1932 – The FBI inaugurated its crime laboratory.
1941 – Murray Hill of Bell Labs initiated the study of voiceprint identification. The technique was refined by L.G. Kersta.
1950 – Max Frei-Sulzer, founder of the first Swiss criminalistics laboratory, developed the tape lift method of collecting trace evidence.
1954 – R. F. Borkenstein, captain of the Indiana State Police, invented the Breathalyzer for field sobriety testing.
1960s – After the discovery that voices could be recorded on an instrument called a sound spectrograph, voiceprints were used in forensic investigations. Samples of recordings on phones, answering machines, or tape recorders could be used as evidence.
1974 – Technology to detect gunshot residue was developed at Aerospace Corporation in the United States. The powdery residue created when a firearm is discharged can link a suspect to the scene of the gunshot and can also be used as evidence to show how close a suspect was to the gun.
1975 – Rockwell International installed the first fingerprint reader at the FBI.
1979 – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police implemented the first automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS).
1984 – The first DNA fingerprinting and profiling techniques were developed by British geneticist, Sir Alec Jeffreys.
1983-86 – DNA fingerprinting was first used in Britain to identify the rapist and killer of two teenagers, murdered in 1983 and 1986, respectively. Semen samples taken from the suspect matched those from the two girls and led to a conviction. This evidence exonerated the main suspect in the murders.
1987 – DNA profiling was introduced for the first time in a U.S. criminal court when Tommy Lee Andrews was convicted of a series of sexual assaults in Orlando, Florida.
2001 – Technological advances in DNA evidence speeded up profiling time from between six to eight weeks to one to two days.
2007 – Britain’s Forensic Science Service launched the U.K.’s first online footwear coding and detection management system. Footwear Intelligence Technology (FIT) helps police quickly identify footwear marks left at crime scenes and links them to other crimes and suspects.
2008 – The University of Leicester’s Forensic Research Centre in Britain developed a technique for taking low-grade fingerprints on metal surfaces from a crime scene. “The technology provided enhanced, history-resilient, detection of latent fingerprints deposited on metals of any colour, resulting in a remarkable increase in the recovery of forensically useable prints.”
2011 – Researchers from Michigan State University developed a set of algorithms and created software that automatically matches hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases.
2011 – Japanese researchers developed a novel dental x-ray matching system that reduces the real-time input of forensic experts and improves the accuracy of the results. A positive match can be made in less than four seconds.
Forensic Science – An Early History: http://criminologycareers.about.com/od/Criminology_Basics/a/Early-History-of-Forensic-Science.htm
The Forensic Timeline: http://www.forensicdna.com/Timeline020702.pdf
Forensic Science Guide: Timeline: http://www.forensicscience.org/resources/forensic-science-timeline/
 Forensic Handbook: “Locard’s Exchange Principle” http://www.forensichandbook.com/locards-exchange-principle/
 Forensic Resources: “Forensic Tests for Saliva: What You Should Know” http://ncforensics.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/forensic-tests-for-saliva-what-you-should-know/
 University of Leicester: “Detecting Latent Fingerprints” http://www2.le.ac.uk/business/tech-transfer/advanced-materials/detecting-latent-fingerprints