The World's First IVF Baby Turns 40

Exactly 40 years ago on Wednesday, around the time when a 100-page issue of PEOPLE magazine featured an ad for “enriched flavor” cigarettes and a cover story on the return of Star Wars, Louise Brown was born.

“Britain’s historic test-tube baby, 5-lb. 12 oz. Louise Brown, has the entire world goo-gooing,” began a three-page feature story in PEOPLE magazine’s Aug. 14, 1978 issue.

Brown is the world’s first baby born by uniting egg and sperm in a petri dish (rather than a test tube as is commonly thought). Her revolutionary birth by in vitro fertilization (IVF) marked the beginning of a new era in reproductive technology; since then, 8 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF.