Scientific American was founded by inventor and publisher Rufus M. Porter in 1845 as a four-page weekly newspaper. It also reported on a broad range of inventions including perpetual motion machines, an 1860 device for buoying vessels by Abraham Lincoln, and the universal joint which now can be found in nearly every automobile manufactured.
Current issues include a “this date in history” section, featuring excerpts from articles originally published 50, 100, and 150 years earlier. Topics include humorous incidents, wrong-headed theories, and noteworthy advances in the history of science and technology.
In the years after World War II, the magazine fell into decline and fewer people read it but then in 1948, three partners who were planning on starting a new popular science magazine, to be called The Sciences, purchased the assets of the old Scientific American instead and put its name on the designs they had created for their new magazine. The baby boomer generation embraced it in a bit way, considering themselves to be scientific and forward thinking people and circulation grew dramatically after 1950.
In the fall of 2008, Scientific American was put under the control of Nature Publishing Group, a division of Holtzbrinck.