Pills go back thousands of years. They were often squished up bits of plant matter. During the early 1800s, attempts to produce pills with specific chemicals had many problems. Coatings would often fail to dissolve, and the moisture required in pill production could often deactivate ingredients.
In 1843, English artist William Brockedon was facing similar
problems with graphite pencils. To get around this, he invented a
machine which was able to press graphite powder into a solid lump
and produce high-quality drawing tools.
A drug manufacturer saw that the device had potential for other
uses, and Brockedon’s invention was soon being used to create the
very first powder-based tablets. This technology was adapted to mass
manufacturing for medicines. Since then there have been many other
ways of produce pills, but the original is still in use.