Oil supply disruptions in the 1970s combined with advances in computers spurred a substantial increase in mathematical modeling of fossil fuel exploration and utilization. One aspect of this work was the broad adoption of various distributed reactivity models for coal and kerogen pyrolysis, which was accomplished in various ways, including activation energy distribution and lattice models. Many of the important advances were published in Energy & Fuels, whose establishment was prompted by this large increase in energy-related research. This paper reviews those advances, starting with some seminal papers in the 1970s followed by the maturation of those approaches in the 1980s and early 1990s, with an emphasis on highly cited papers published in the first 15 years of Energy & Fuels. These methods and kinetic parameters therefrom continue to be used today. However, many current researchers may not appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches and merely follow the practices of their specialty group without considering potentially better approaches.