An Alcoholics Anonymous Member points to available literature, in 1967
Duane Howell—Denver Post Archive/Getty Images
December 11, 2014 7:00 AM EST

Though anonymity is the hallmark of Alcoholics Anonymous, its founder’s name is well-known: Bill Wilson, often called Bill W., bought his last drink 80 years ago — on Dec. 11, 1934 — before entering the hospital where he had the epiphany that became the foundation of AA.

Here’s how the magazine described what happened:

Today, AA estimates that it has over 2 million members worldwide.

Read the full 1940 story, here in the TIME Vault: “Alcoholics Anonymous”

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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