The knowledge of calcium as a chemical element is relatively recent. However, some of its compounds are known and used since early times. The Romans used lime (calcium oxide), clacked lime (calcium hydroxide) and hydraulic cement in construction works. The name of the element is derived from the Latin calx (lime).

The element was first isolated by Sir Humphrey Davy, in 1808, by electrolysis of the fused chlorides. In a reunion at the English Royal Society, in the 30th July 1808, he referred to the new alkaline earth metals in this way: "These new substance require new names and therefore by the principles used in the naming of the alkalis, I suggest the names barium, strontium and calcium".