From a historical standpoint, the problems of ototoxicity came in two major stages. The first, in the nineteenth century, indirectly resulted from the chemical extraction, purification and, sometimes later, synthesis of the active components of traditional drugs, which led to their use in larger doses. The second stage, in the twentieth century, derived from the drive to find more and more effective antibacterial agents, which often had damaging side effects on the inner ear. These effects were highlighted by the development of more sophisticated techniques to detect and measure the ototoxic actions of drugs. The present brief account traces some early reports of ototoxicity from the time of Richard Morton (1692) onwards.