With the flood of published research encountered today, it is important to occasionally reflect upon how we arrived at our current understanding in a particular scientific discipline, thereby positioning new discoveries into proper context with long-established models. This historical review highlights some of the important scientific contributions in the field of neurogenic placode development. By viewing cumulatively the rich historical data, we can more fully appreciate and apply what has been accomplished. Early descriptive work in fish and experimental approaches in amphibians and chick yielded important conceptual models of placode induction and cellular differentiation. Current efforts to discover genes and their molecular functions continue to expand our understanding of the placodes. Carefully considering the body of work may improve current models and help focus modern experimental design. Developmental Dynamics 243:1167–1175, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.