Niobium was first discovered in 1801 by Hatchett in an ore sent to England. It is also known as columbium since it was originally discovered in a mineral named columbite. Niobium was rediscovered and renamed by Heinrich Rose in 1844 when he produced two new acids, niobic acid and pelopic acid, from samples of columbite and tantalite. These acids are very similar to each other and it took another twenty-two years and a Swiss chemist named Jean Charles Galissard de Marignac to prove that these were two distinct chemicals produced from two different elements.

Metallic niobium was finally isolated and first prepared in 1864 by the Swedish chemist Christian Wilhelm Blomstrand, who reduced the chloride by heating it in a hydrogen atmosphere. The name of niobium (Named after Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus) was adopted officially by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in 1950 after 100 years of controversy. Though, many metallurgists still refer to the metal as “columbium.”