Modafinil (2-Diphenylmethyl-sulfinyl) also know as Provigil, Modalert, Alertec, Acetamide, or Modapro. It is a so called wakefulness-promoting agent, and was initially a sole prescription medicine for narcolepsy.
As a substance it had originally been developed by a company called Lafon Laboratories during the late 1970s in France. It was used for increasing alertness and to delay sleepiness. It was discovered to have very convenient side effects as enhanced memory, cognition, and attention.
Modafinil originates from its precursor compound Adrafinil. It was this drug that was initially found to enhance wakefulness and alertness which then became offered in France as a treatment for narcolepsy in 1986. After a few modifications, it was discovered that the newly identified drug Modafinil had fewer negative side effects (abuse, addiction, withdrawal compared to Ritalin or Adderall) and thus greater potential than its precursor.
Modafinil had started to replace Adrafinil as the clinical drug of preference for narcolepsy, wakefulness, and attention deficits as from 1994 onwards.