The first multidisciplinary intensive care unit in the world was established at the Copenhagen Municipal Hospital in December 1953. The man behind the concept was the Danish anesthesiologist Bjørn Ibsen (born: 1915). The paper outlines the conditions that made it possible for Ibsen to establish a unit where all categories of severely-ill patients were monitored and treated around the clock along the lines used in the operating theatres. The history of the technological and scientific evolution of intensive care therapy is briefly summarised. It is concluded that despite the increased sophistication of intensive care therapy, it often meets with failure because it is started too late. The development of an early warning system is urgently needed.