Early intervention for potentially serious disorder is a fundamental feature of healthcare across the spectrum of physical illness. It has been a major factor in the reductions in morbidity and mortality that have been achieved in some of the non-communicable diseases, notably cancer and cardiovascular disease. Over the past two decades, an international collaborative effort has been mounted to build the evidence and the capacity for early intervention in the psychotic disorders, notably schizophrenia, where for so long deep pessimism had reigned. The origins and rapid development of early intervention in psychosis are described from a personal and Australian perspective. This uniquely evidence-informed, evidence-building and cost-effective reform provides a blueprint and launch pad to radically change the wider landscape of mental health care and dissolve many of the barriers that have constrained progress for so long.