It is first mentioned in the 1876 edition of The Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas, but there are claims that this is an English drink.
The English claim it is named after Old Tom Gin, a sweetened style popular in the mid 19th century England and John Collins who was a London Bartender in the mid 1800s.
The Great Tom Collins Hoax
Friends would tell a late arrival to a gathering that a man, Tom Collins, had just been saying the most terrible, slanderous things about him, and that Tom Collins had just left for a bar around the corner. The friend would then dash off to the other bar and demand to know where Tom Collins was. The bartender would then make him a Tom Collins and ask for the money.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.