The association of an electron-rich substrate with an electron-accepting molecule can generate a new molecular aggregate in the ground state, called an electron donor-acceptor (EDA) complex. Even when the two precursors do not absorb visible light, the resulting EDA complex often does. In 1952, Mulliken proposed a quantum-mechanical theory to rationalize the formation of such colored EDA complexes. However, and besides a few pioneering studies in the 20th century, it is only in the last few years that the EDA complex photochemistry has been recognized as a powerful strategy for expanding the potential of visible-light-driven radical synthetic chemistry. Here, we explain why this photochemical synthetic approach was over-looked for so long. We critically discuss the historical con-text, scientific reasons, serendipitous observations, and landmark discoveries that were essential for progress in the field. We also outline future directions and identify the key advances that are needed to fully exploit the potential of the EDA complex photochemistry.