"Philosophers was felt to be too wide and too lofty a term,..; savans was rather assuming,..; some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this termination when we have such words as sciolist, economist, and atheist — but this was not generally palatable."The need remained, however, and a decade later, William Whewell, a philosopher and biologist pushed the issue again: “We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist.” This time it stuck.
Once the name stuck, an image quickly became attached -- wild hair, lab coats and odd apparatus all became part and parcel of what it means to be a scientist. My most recent Thesis columnin Nature Chemistry -- Men of Mystery -- takes up popular images of scientists, and considers the impact the images might have on public discourse about science.
UPDATED: See Snail's Tails post about philosophy and philosophical instruments. The ad for the "philosophical instrument makers" is fascinating!