Nobel Prize

The first-ever Nobel Prize was awarded on 10 December in 1901 at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. The Nobel Prizes were established by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, scientist, and philanthropist. The prizes were awarded in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, and Peace.

The Historical Milestone: The First Ever Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize is an internationally renowned award that recognizes exceptional individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions in various fields. Established by the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor, scientist, and philanthropist, the Nobel Prize has become the benchmark of excellence in areas such as physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economic sciences. In this article, we delve into the fascinating history of the first ever Nobel Prize and its significance in the world of academia and peace.

The Genesis of the Nobel Prize

Alfred Nobel’s motivation to establish the Nobel Prize was shaped by a remarkable event in his own life. In 1888, Alfred’s brother Ludvig died, and a French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary for Alfred instead. The obituary described him as the “merchant of death” due to his invention and production of dynamite. This incident deeply affected Nobel and inspired him to be remembered for contributions that promoted peace and human progress.

Alfred Nobel - Founder of Nobel Prize
Alfred Nobel – Founder of Nobel Prize

The Inception of the Nobel Prize Categories

In his will, signed in Paris on 27 November 1895, Nobel specified the establishment of five Nobel Prizes to honor achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The first three categories were intended to recognize breakthroughs and advancements in scientific research, while the literature award was meant to honor exceptional literary works. The peace prize aimed to reward individuals and organizations making significant contributions to the promotion of peace and the resolution of conflicts. In 1968, the Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences to commemorate Nobel’s legacy.

Alfred Nobel and his will
Alfred Nobel and his will

The First Nobel Prize Ceremonies

The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, five years after Nobel’s death. The laureates were selected by several committees and academies specific to each category. The Nobel Prizes were presented for the first time on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death, in ceremonies held at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented in Oslo, Norway.

First Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
First Nobel Prize Award Ceremony at Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm

The First Nobel Laureates

The inaugural Nobel Prizes recognized outstanding work in various fields. The first recipients of the Nobel Prizes were:


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a German mechanical engineer and physicist, for his groundbreaking discovery of X-rays. Röntgen’s research and experimentation led to the identification and understanding of this previously unknown form of electromagnetic radiation. His discovery had a profound impact on the fields of physics, medicine, and imaging, revolutionizing diagnostic techniques and enabling the visualization of internal structures within the human body.


Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff, a Dutch physical chemist, for his significant contributions to the development of chemical thermodynamics. His groundbreaking work on the laws of chemical dynamics, particularly his formulation of the van ‘t Hoff equation, greatly advanced the understanding of chemical reactions and how they are influenced by temperature and concentration. This work laid the foundation for the field of physical chemistry and had far-reaching implications for various scientific disciplines, including biochemistry and chemical engineering. The Nobel Prize recognized van ‘t Hoff’s exceptional insights and innovative approaches to the study of chemical reactions and their underlying principles.


Emil Adolf von Behring, a German physiologist, received this prestigious honor for his pioneering contributions to the development of serum therapy, specifically for the treatment of diphtheria. Von Behring’s work involved identifying the importance of antibodies in the human immune response and establishing methods to produce and administer antitoxins derived from the blood of animals immunized against the disease. His breakthroughs in understanding and treating infectious diseases, particularly diphtheria, had a profound impact on the field of medicine and saved numerous lives. The Nobel Prize recognized von Behring’s significant advancements in therapeutic immunology, providing a foundation for future advances in vaccine and antibody therapies.


Sully Prudhomme, a French poet, received the prestigious award for his poetic works, which were characterized by their artistic and lyrical qualities. Prudhomme’s poetry explored themes such as nature, love, and spirituality. His elegant and introspective style, combined with his ability to evoke emotions in his readers, contributed to his recognition as a notable literary figure.


Jean Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman and social activist, and Frédéric Passy, a French economist, for their efforts in establishing the International Red Cross and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, respectively.

Legacy and Impact

The establishment of the Nobel Prize marked a revolutionary step in recognizing and celebrating exceptional achievements across a diverse range of fields. Over the years, the Nobel Prizes have inspired countless researchers, scientists, writers, peacemakers, and economists to strive for innovation, progress, and global harmony. The annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and the ensuing global recognition have become momentous events that bring worldwide attention to the laureates’ work and inspire future generations.


The first Nobel Prize bestowed by Alfred Nobel’s testament paved the way for honoring outstanding individuals and organizations in diverse domains. The vision of promoting scientific advancements, remarkable literature, global peace, and economic understanding has left an indelible mark on the world. The Nobel Prizes continue to celebrate extraordinary achievements that impact humanity and inspire a better future.

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