1840, from series
(q.v.), popularized in ref. to Dickens' novels, published one part at a time (as opposed to all at once, in a book). Found to be a useful word and given wide application. The noun is attested from 1846. Serial number
first recorded 1935. Serial killer
is first attested 1981 (in relation to John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy), though serial
had been used in connection with murders since the early 1960s.