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”
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