The hypodermic syringe was invented in the mid-1840s. Disposable standard (non-safety) syringes have been manufactured since the early 1960s.
In 1978, a medical technician at the University of Wisconsin Hospital contracted hepatitis B from an accidental needlestick injury. The hospital's Dr. Dennis Maki and nurse Rita McCormick began groundbreaking research that alerted the medical community to the risk that healthcare workers face for contracting bloodborne diseases from contaminated needles.
In their report, published in 1981, Maki and McCormick found that many needlestick injuries occurred during recapping attempts and warned medical workers not to recap needles. Despite the medical community's realization that hepatitis B and many other bloodborne pathogens were frequently spread by accidental needlestick injuries, it took the deadly specter of HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s to focus attention on the need for needle safety devices.