This paper provides a historical perspective on the emergency of HgCdTe as the material of choice for long wavelength infrared (LWIR) imagers. The need for devices which see room temperature objects through the atmospheric window actually drove the development of this material. The lack of elemental or compound semiconductors having the desired wavelength response forced the choice of the alloy semiconductor, HgCdTe. The development of this material in several countries and companies beginning in the late 1950's is traced. The crystal growth methods used to grow HgCdTe have included melt growth techniques such as Bridgman, zone-melting, quench-anneal and slushgrowth. The solution growth techniques include growth from HgTe-rich, Te-rich and Hg-rich solutions. Vapor phase growth has included evaporation, sputtering, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). No perfect method has yet been developed, but several have provided material for the large area arrays needed for modern imagers.