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The concept of chromatin as a complex of nucleic acid and proteins in the cell nucleus was developed by cytologists and biochemists in the late 19th century. It was the starting point for biochemical research on DNA and nuclear proteins. Although interest in chromatin declined rapidly at the beginning of the 20th century, a few decades later a new focus on chromatin emerged, which was not only related to its structure, but also to its function in gene regulatory processes in the development of higher organisms. Since the late 20th century, research on chromatin modifications has also been conducted under the label of epigenetics. This article highlights the major phases of chromatin research until the present time and introduces major investigators and their scientific and philosophical outlooks.