The first published use of the world 'condum' was in a 1706 poem.6 It has also been suggested that Condom was a doctor in the time of Charles II. It is believed that he invented the device to help the king to prevent the birth of more illegitimate children.7
Even the most famous lover of all, Casanova, was using the condom as a birth control as well as against infection.8
Condoms made out of animal intestines began to be available. However, they were quite expensive and the unfortunate result was that they were often reused. This type of condom was described at the time as "an armour against pleasure, and a cobweb against infection".
In the second half of the 1700's, a trade in handmade condoms thrived in London and some shops where producing handbills and advertisements of condoms.
The use of condoms was affected by technological, economic and social development in Europe and the US in the 1800s.
Condom manufacturing was revolutionised by the discovery of rubber vulcanisation by Goodyear (founder of the tyre company) and Hancock. This meant that is was possible to mass produce rubber goods including condoms quickly and cheaply. Vulcanisation is a process, which turns the rubber into a strong elastic material.10
In 1861,the first advertisement for condoms was published in an American newspaper when The New York Times printed an ad. for 'Dr. Power's French Preventatives.'
In 1873, the Comstock Law was passed. Named after Anthony Comstock, the Comstock Law made illegal the advertising of any sort of birth control, and it also allowed the postal service to confiscate condoms sold through the mail.
Until the 1920s, most condoms were manufactured by hand-dipping from rubber cement. These kinds of condoms aged quickly and the quality was doubtful.
In 1919, Frederick Killian initiated hand-dipping from natural rubber latex in Ohio. The latex condoms had the advantage of ageing less quickly and being thinner and odourless. These new type of condoms enjoyed a great expansion of sales. By the mid-1930s, the fifteen largest makers in the U.S. were producing 1.5 million condoms a day.11
In 1957, the very first lubricated condom was launched in the UK by Durex.
From the early 1960s, the use of condoms as a contraceptive device declined as the pill, the coil and sterilisation became more popular.
The use of the condom increased strikingly in many countries following the recognition of HIV and AIDS in the 1980's. Condoms also became available in pubs, bars, grocery stores and supermarkets.
The female condom has been available in Europe since 1992 and it was approved in 1993 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Find out more information about female condoms.
In 1994, the world's first polyurethane condom for men was launched in the US.
The 1990s also saw the introduction of coloured and flavoured condoms.