The company was organized in 1969 as a Massachusetts real estate investment trust under its former name DMG, Inc. In 1978, DMG, Inc. was reorganized as a Florida corporation and changed its name to Diversified Mortgage Investors, Inc., Eventually, the company adopted the name Danaher in 1984 and was reincorporated as a Delaware corporation. In June 1986, Danaher purchased Chicago Pneumatic ("CP") who had just recently merged in July 1984 with a sister company The Jacobs Manufacturing Company ("Jacobs") and who had purchased Matco Tools Corporation ("MTC") in April 1981. Danaher sold CP in June 1987, retaining Jacobs, including its Matco Tools Division. Jacobs' name was changed to Matco Tools Corporation in November 1991, and the other divisions within Jacobs were established as separate operating companies. In January 1993, Danaher formed NMTC, Inc., which acquired a substantial portion of the assets of MTC, including the existing distributorship agreements of MTC.
The company is named after Danaher Creek in Montana where the Rales brothers, Steven and Mitchell, went fishing.
Within two years of Danaher Corporation's founding in 1984, Danaher Corporation acquired 12 companies as part of a strategy to enter the manufacturing business. Therefore, in 1986 Danaher added Qualitrol to its instrumentation unit. The unit also included Gilbarco Veeder-Root's underground fuel storage sensors, Dynapar's motion sensors and Qualitrol's pressure and temperature measurement instruments, used on the electrical transformer industry.
The Danaher Motion group acquired Kollmorgen, of Radford, Virginia.
In October 2017, Danaher Corp announced the acquisition of IDBS. It was announced that IDBS would become part of Danaher's life sciences platform.
In March 2018, the business announced it would acquire Integrated DNA Technologies for an undisclosed price.