Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has become one of the most successful optical technologies implemented in medicine and clinical practice mostly due to the possibility of non-invasive and non-contact imaging by detecting back-scattered light. OCT has gone through a tremendous development over the past 25 years. From its initial inception in 1991 [Science 254, 1178 (1991)] it has become an indispensable medical imaging technology in ophthalmology. Also in fields like cardiology and gastro-enterology the technology is envisioned to become a standard of care. A key contributor to the success of OCT has been the sensitivity and speed advantage offered by Fourier domain OCT. In this review paper the development of FD-OCT will be revisited, providing a single comprehensive framework to derive the sensitivity advantage of both SD- and SS-OCT. We point out the key aspects of the physics and the technology that has enabled a more than 2 orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity, and as a consequence an increase in the imaging speed without loss of image quality. This speed increase provided a paradigm shift from point sampling to comprehensive 3D in vivo imaging, whose clinical impact is still actively explored by a large number of researchers worldwide.