Quantum numbers appear directly in the Schrödinger equation solution for the hydrogen atom.
However, it very cool that they are actually discovered before the the Schrödinger equation, and are present in the Bohr model (principal quantum number) and the Bohr-Sommerfeld model (azimuthal quantum number and magnetic quantum number) of the atom. This must be because they observed direct effects of those numbers in some experiments. TODO which experiments.
E.g. The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott (2011) page 34 mentions:
As the various lines in the spectrum were identiﬁed with different quantum jumps between different orbits, it was soon discovered that not all the possible jumps were appearing. Some lines were missing. For some reason certain jumps were forbidden. An elaborate scheme of ‘selection rules’ was established by Bohr and Sommerfeld to account for those jumps that were allowed and those that were forbidden.This refers to forbidden mechanism. TODO concrete example, ideally the first one to be noticed. How can you notice this if the energy depends only on the principal quantum number?