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”
More Must-Reads From TIME
- Succession Was a Race to the Bottom, And Everybody Won
- What Erdoğan’s Victory Means for Turkey—and the World
- Why You Can't Remember That Taylor Swift Concert All Too Well
- How Four Trans Teens Threw the Prom of Their Dreams
- Why Turkey’s Longtime Leader Is an Electoral Powerhouse
- The Ancient Roots of Psychotherapy
- Drought Crisis Spurs U.S.-Mexico Collaboration
- Florence Pugh Might Just Save the Movie Star From Extinction