Who is John Stith Pemberton?
Georgia pharmacist John Stith Pemberton was the inventor of Coca-Cola. He sold the first glass of his newly concocted drink in Atlanta's Jacobs Pharmacy in 1886.
In his day Pemberton was a most respected member of the state's medical establishment, but his gift was for medical chemistry rather than regular medicine. He was a practical pharmacist and chemist of great skill, active all his life in medical reform, and a respected businessman. His most enduring accomplishments involve his laboratories, which are still in operation more than 125 years later as part of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Converted into the state's first testing labs and staffed with Pemberton's hand-picked employees, these labs almost single-handedly eliminated the sale of fraudulent agricultural chemicals in the state and ensured successful prosecution of those who tried to sell them.
Born on January 8, 1831, in Knoxville, in Crawford County, Pemberton grew up and attended the local schools in Rome, where his family lived for almost thirty years. He studied medicine and pharmacy at the Reform Medical College of Georgia in Macon.
He practiced medicine and surgery first in Rome and its environs and then in Columbus, where in 1855 he established a wholesale-retail drug business specializing in "materia medica" (substances used in the composition of medical remedies).