Niobium: historical information
Niobium was discovered in 1801 by Charles Hatchett in an ore called columbite sent to England in the 1750s by John Winthrop the Younger, the first goveror of Connecticut, USA. Hatchett called the new element columbium. He was not able to isolate the free element. There was then considerable confusion concerning the distinction between niobium and tantalum as they are so closely related. This confustion was resolved by Heinrich Rose, who named niobium, and Marignac in 1846. The name niobium is now used in place of the original name "columbium".
The metal niobium was first prepared in 1864 by Blomstrand, who reduced the chloride by heating it in a hydrogen atmosphere.