50 Companies And What They Looked Like When They First Started
It's not easy to build a company that lasts, but there are many that have been going strong for many years. Only about sixty-six percent of businesses make it to the two-year mark, and then about half survive beyond five years. The oldest American company had existed since 1752, which was before the United States was even founded. During the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of businesses have had to close their doors, but the successful companies are still going as strong as ever.
Caswell-Massey is a perfume and soap company that was started by Dr. William Hunter. The company was opened in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1752 and supplied residents with their medicinals, perfumes, and personal care products.
George Washington even gave a bottle of Number Six Cologne to the Marquis de Lafayette, who took the products cross-country with them. Today, there are no retail stores, but the products are still sold online.
The Hartford Courant
The Hartford Courant is a Connecticut-based newspaper that was founded in 1764 by Thomas Green. It is known for being the oldest newspaper in continuous publication, with "Older than the nation" as its slogan.
The paper has had several historical moments, including George Washington placing an ad and Mark Twain once trying to buy stock in the paper. In addition, it was run by one of the country's first female publishers, Hannah Brunce Watson.
The company, Baker's Chocolate, was founded by a Harvard-educated doctor named James Baker and Irish immigrant John Hannon. It was founded right outside of Boston in 1765, and the first chocolate was sold in 1772.
In 1779, Hannon went to the West Indies to buy cocoa but never returned, so Baker was left in charge. The product line was expanded and is owned by Kraft Heinz today.
Ames is a tool company that was founded in Massachusetts in 1774. The company was started by a blacksmith, Capt. John Ames. Its shovels were used in many landmark events.
The shovels were used in the building of the transcontinental railroad, the groundbreaking for the B&O Railroad in Baltimore, and the installation of the Statue of Liberty. The company's tools were also used in the creation of Mount Rushmore and the construction of the interstate highway system.
Jim Beam was first founded in 1795 when corn farmers of the Kentucky region of Virginia distilled their excess crop into a sweeter whiskey. Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of whiskey, called Old Jake Beam Sour Mash, in 1795.
In 1943, the company's name became Jim Beam, named after its founder. Today, the company is run by the seventh generation of the Beam family, Frederick Booker Noe III.
JPMorgan Chase was first founded as the Manhattan Co. by Aaron Burr in New York City. It first started as a venture to lay waterworks for the city but later operated as a bank.
After dozens of mergers, it became J.P. Morgan & Co., and it was a principal investor in the railroad in the 1800s. It is the largest bank in the United States, and it still operates in many industries besides banking today.
DuPont was founded by E.I. du Pont, a Frenchman with expertise in making gunpowder. It was founded in 1802 in Delaware, and du Pont built his first powder mill on Brandywine Creek in 1804. He used bark from willow trees for charcoal to create a black powder.
Over the years, the company has made many products such as sweater fibers, dyes, and film for Hollywood movies. In addition, the company holds several trademarks, including Teflon, Kevlar, and Corian countertops. The company merged with Dow in 2015.
Colgate is a brand of toothpaste that was started by William Colgate in 1806. He founded the company in New York City, but it actually started out selling soaps, candles, and perfumes in 1866.
The company debuted toothpaste in jars in 1873, and in 1928, Colgate merged with Palmolive. Today, Colgate has sales of more than sixteen billion and is sold in more than two hundred countries worldwide.
Citigroup is a bank that was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York. It was founded and run by Samuel Osgood and opened with two million in capital. In 1865, it was renamed The National City Bank of New York after joining the U.S. National Banking System.
It became the largest bank in the U.S. and opened its first foreign branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1914. The company's name changed several times throughout the years and eventually became Citigroup.
Remington Ammunition is America's oldest firearm maker but was first known for its commercial typewriter. Remington was founded in 1816 by Eliphalet Remington in Ilion, New York.
One of his sons forged a barrel and, after having it rifled, placed second in a local shooting competition with it. The company began making barrels to meet demand and is still doing that today.
HarperCollins Publishers was first started in 1817 as J. & J. Harper by brothers James and John Harper. Two more brothers joined the company in 1833, and the name became Harper & Brothers.
It also expanded to publishing monthly magazines in 1850 and purchased other publishers over the next several years. They merged and became today's HarperCollins Publishers.
Atkins & Pearce
Atkins & Pearce was founded in 1817 by John and Henry Pearce in Cincinnati. They created an adaptation of the cotton gin and began manufacturing machinery. The company played an important part in history, including retooling operations during economic disruptions due to the Civil War.
It also manufactured parachute cords and other materials during World War II. The company has been in business for more than two hundred years as an international company.
Brooks Brothers Company was founded in 1818 and is the oldest clothing retailer in America. It was founded the same year that Congress decided the flag should have thirteen red and white stripes and twenty stars. The first store was known as D. H. Brooks & Co. and was opened in New York.
In 1849, the company introduced its first ready-made suits and its original button-down polo shirt in 1896. Today, there are more than two hundred and fifty retail and factory stores in the United States and another two hundred and fifty internationally.
Macy's was founded in Boston and was originally named R.H. Macy & Co. The company was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy and started with four dry goods stores in 1843.
The original Macy's store was in downtown Haverhill, Massachusetts, and in 1902, it moved to its current location, which is known worldwide. The company is known for its impressive window displays and publicity activities to draw shoppers.
Pabst Brewing Co.
Pabst Brewing Co. was started in Milwaukee as The Empire Brewery. The company was founded by Jacob Best and later named after him, Best and Co. After Best died, his son-in-law, Frederick Pabst, took over and changed the name.
Pabst Blue Ribbon has been the brewery's most famous beer, and the brewer has won awards such as the 2015 Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival.
Firestone Tire And Rubber Company
Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was founded by Harvey Firestone in 1901. It began initially to sell rubber side-wire tires for fire apparatus and, later, tires for wagons and buggies.
Later, the company was a pioneer in the mass production of tires. It was originally based in Akron, Ohio, and in 1906, Henry Ford chose Firestone to supply the tires for his cars. In 1918, the company was incorporated in Canada.
Quaker Oats Company
Quaker Oats Company was founded in 1901 by Ferdinand Schumacher. He organized the German Mills American Oatmeal Factory in Akron, Ohio, with a mission to introduce steel-cut oats to the American table.
At the time, oats were considered an inappropriate food for anything but horses. The initial customers were German and Irish immigrants because they were already accustomed to eating oats.
JCPenney Company was founded by James Cash Penney in 1902. He moved to Colorado for health reasons and became employed by T.M. Callahan, the owner of the Golden Rule Mercantile Company Chain. He later bought out the store and made it his own.
He worked six days a week, and by 1927, JCPenney had opened one thousand stores around the United States. In his book, Penney wrote, "The ethical means by which my business associates and I have made money is more important than the fact that we have achieved business success."
Pepsi-Cola was founded in 1902 by Caleb Bradham in Duplin County, North Carolina. However, he first marketed the drink from his pharmacy in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1898.
It was incorporated in Delaware in 1919. Today, it is an American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation headquartered in Harrison, New York. In 1965, the Pepsi-Cola Company and Frito-Lay, Inc merged and became PepsiCo.
Ford Motor Company
Henry Ford's first company was called The Henry Ford Company and was founded in 1901. This became the Cadillac Motor Company in 1902, and then in 1903, the Ford Motor Company was launched in Detroit, Michigan. At that time, only a few cars were made each day, with two or three men working on each car. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and its luxury cars under the Lincoln luxury brand.
The company became one of the world's largest and most profitable companies. Some quotes from Henry Ford, "If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own" and "There is no man living who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can do."
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Bookseller Company was founded in 1886 by Charles M. Barnes, William Barnes, and G. Clifford Noble. It was first opened as Arthur Hinds & Company in New York City, and in 1894, it became Hinds & Noble.
The bookstore is a Fortune 1000 company and is known for having the largest number of retail outlets in the United States. As of 2020, the company has six hundred and fourteen retail stores around the United States.
Target is a department store chain headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company was founded in 1902 by George Dayton and was originally called Goodfellow Dry Goods and later called Dayton's Dry Goods Company and then simply Dayton Company.
The first Target store was opened in Roseville, Minnesota, in 1962 and was established as the discount division of Dayton's department store. New store formats under the Target brand were introduced in the 1990s.
Nordstrom is a luxury department store chain headquartered in Seattle, Washington. It was founded by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin in 1901. It was originally known as Wallin & Nordstrom and was a shoe store.
The store began selling clothing in 1963 and became the Nordstrom full-line retailer in 1971. Today, the company competes with department stores such as Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Coca-Cola Company is a multinational beverage corporation that was founded in 1892. The original Coca-Cola drink was invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton. It was advertised as helpful in the relief of headaches and was sold primarily in drugstores.
Frank M. Robinson, Pemberton's bookkeeper, is credited with naming the beverage after two of the main ingredients, coca leaves, and kola nuts. Robinson continued making, promoting, and selling the popular drink.
IBM stands for International Business Machines Corporation and is a technology corporation in Armonk, New York. The company was founded in 1911 by trust businessman Charles Ranlett Flint and was originally called the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company.
The computing scale was patented by Julius E. Pitrap, the dial recorder was invented by Alexander Dey, the Electric Tabulating Machine was patented by Herman Hollerith, and Willard Bundy invented a time clock. The five companies were merged.
Apple Inc. is a technology company that is based in Cupertino, California. It was originally founded as Apple Computer Company in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak. The company was first started in a garage. They began selling Wozniak's Apple I personal computer, and in 1977, it became Apple Computer, Inc., with the Apple II becoming a best seller and one of the first mass-produced microcomputers.
Today, it is the largest technology company by revenue and the world's biggest company by market capitalization. In an interview before Steve Jobs died, he said, "Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do. That's true for companies, and it's true for products. The main thing I stressed was focus. It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions."
Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, childhood friends who wanted to create a business using their skills in computer programming. It is a multinational technology corporation producing computer software, personal computers, and consumer electronics.
The company's best-known products are the Windows line of operating systems, Microsoft Office Suite, and Internet Explorer. It is also very well known for the Xbox.
Walmart was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton in Rogers, Arkansas. It is a multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department stores, hypermarkets, and grocery stores.
In addition, it owns and operates Sam's Club and has more than ten thousand stores and clubs in twenty-four countries. Today, Walmart is the world's largest company by revenue and the largest private employer in the world, with a total of 2.2 million employees.
Amazon is another multinational technology company focusing on cloud computing, e-commerce, digital streaming, online advertising, and artificial intelligence. The company was founded by Jeff Bezos in Bellevue, Washington, in 1994. It began as an online marketplace for books and later expanded into The Everything Store.
Some have referred to Amazon as "one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world." It is one of the Big Five American information technology companies, along with Apple, Microsoft, Meta, and Alphabet. Amazon also offers Web Services and Prime Video.
AT&T is a telecommunications holding company that was founded as Bell Telephone Company. It was founded by Thomas Watson, Alexander Graham Bell, and Gardiner Greene Hubbard.
In 1881, it became the American Bell Telephone, and it became AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Company) in 1885. It is headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas, and is the world's largest telecommunications company by revenue.
General Motors is an automotive manufacturing company that was founded in 1908 by William C. Durant. The company's first vehicle was the Buick and then Oldsmobile. GM went on to acquire Elmore, Cadillac, Cartercar, Oakland, Welch, and more.
The company is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, and is the largest automaker in the United States. One of Durant's quotes was, "Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is a very popular infant product line that was founded in 1886. It was created by Robert Wood Johnson, James Wood Johnson, and Edward Mead Johnson.
They created a line of ready-to-use sterile surgical dressings and supplies, household products, and medical guides. It is one of the world's most valuable companies and is well known for its infant products, including baby powder, soaps, and so much more.
Intel is a technology company that was founded in 1968 by Gordon E. Moore and Robert Noyce. Moore was a chemist, and Noyce was a physicist. The company was created in Mountain View, California.
It is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, and is the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue. The company supplies products for Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and HP.
HP Inc. (Hewlett-Packard) is an information technology company that was founded in 1939. The company was created by Bill Hewlett and David Packard. The company began in Pal Alto, California, and develops personal computers, 3D printing solutions, printers, and related supplies.
HP is the world's second-largest personal computer vendor by unit sales. "Great computer, reputable company, and great price. HP is known for its wonderful products. When you find great quality, always go for the very best. I gave my sister an HP computer, and she is absolutely thrilled by this beautiful product." ----- Philippe.
Boeing was started in 1916 when William E. Boeing, an American lumber industrialist, founded Aero Products Company in Seattle, Washington. He and Conrad Westervelt created the B&W seaplane and renamed the company Boeing Airplane Company.
The company designs, manufactures, and sells rotorcraft, rockets, airplanes, satellites, equipment, telecommunications, and missiles worldwide. It is one of the largest global aerospace manufacturers.
Nike is a very popular shoe company and was founded in 1964. It was originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports and was created by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. It began operating in Eugene, Oregon as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger. They made most of their sales at track meets out of Knight's automobiles.
Nike has since been engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales of apparel, equipment, footwear, accessories, and services. Nike is the world's largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and became really popular after Michael Jordan became a spokesperson for the company.
John Deere was originally started as Deere & Company by John Deere in Rutland, Vermont, in 1804. In 1837, he opened a shop in Grand Detour to allow him to serve as a general repairman in the village. He also manufactured tools, including pitchforks and shovels.
He went on to create the self-scouring steel plow with a Scottish steel saw blade. His invention greatly helped migration into the American Great Plains in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, John Deere manufactures heavy equipment, agricultural machinery, forestry machinery, diesel engines, and lawn care equipment.
Samsung was first started in 1969 as an industrial part of Samsung Group in Suwon, South Korea. At the time, the company was known as a trading company specializing in fertilizers and sweeteners. Eventually, Samsung Electric established a joint venture with Sanyo and Sumitomo Corporation called Samsung-Sanyo Electric.
The company has played a key role in the group's corporate governance because of circular ownership and has assembly plants and sales networks in seventy-four countries. It is the world's second-largest technology company by revenue.
Walt Disney Company
Most of us know about the Walt Disney Company, mainly from the movies and theme parks. The company is a mass media and entertainment company that was created in 1923 by two brothers, Walt and Roy O. Disney. It was initially called the Disney Brothers Studio but operated under the names Walt Disney Studio and Walt Disney Productions.
However, in 1986, it officially became known as the Walt Disney Company. The company began as a leader in the animation industry with characters like Mickey Mouse. Later, the company added live-action films, television, and theme parks.
FedEx began as Federal Express Corporation and then FDX Corporation. It was created by Frederick W. Smith in 1971 and began in Little Rock, Arkansas. Smith came up with the idea in one of his school term papers at Yale University. The company grew quickly and had a billion dollars in revenue by 1983.
In 1994, the company shortened its name to simply FedEx, which is how we know it today. The company is most known for its air delivery service, which was one of the first major shipping companies to offer overnight delivery. In addition, FedEx assists in the transport of some U.S. Postal Service packages.
UPS (United Parcel Services) is mostly known for its ground shipping services and its UPS Store, which offers shipping, packaging, post office boxes, and more. The company was created by James E. Casey as the American Messenger Company in Seattle, Washington, in 1907.
When it first began, most deliveries were either made on foot or on bicycles. It has become one of the world's largest shipping couriers, also offering overnight or two-day deliveries.
Berkshire Hathaway was first created in 1939 by Oliver Chace, but it was first known as the Valley Falls Company in Valley Falls, Rhode Island. The company merged with the Berkshire Cotton Manufacturing Company and became known as Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates.
Today, the company owns Duracell, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, Pampered Chef, Dairy Queen, GEICO, and more. It is known for its control and leadership by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.
Visa was created by Joseph P. Williams in 1956. He convinced the executives to allow him to create what became the world's first successful mass mailing of unsolicited credit cards.
His pioneering accomplishment was that he created an all-purpose credit card, and it was successful. It was first called the BankAmericard, and the card uses electronic funds transfers through Visa-branded credit cards, prepaid cards, and debit cards.
General Mills began as the Minneapolis Milling Company in 1856 and was created by Robert Smith, an Illinois Congressman. The mill was along the west side of Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River. It initially gained popularity for being a large flour miller, but today it is known for several things.
The company markets Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, and so many more. The company became General Mills in 1928 when James Ford Bell was president.
Hershey Company was created by Milton S. Hershey in 1894 and was first called the Hershey Chocolate Company. Milton opened a candy shop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which was open for six years.
It is one of the biggest chocolate manufacturers in the world, but it also makes baked products like cakes and cookies and sells beverages such as milkshakes. Its headquarters is also home to Hersheypark and Hershey's Chocolate World.
Betty Crocker was created by Washburn-Crosby and Bruce Barton and is a company but also a character. The company is part of General Mills and is known for desserts, Fruit Roll-Ups. Fruit Gushers, and much more. It is also known for the Betty Crocker cookbooks.
The company's character has been described as an American cultural icon. In addition, it was a part of the country's first radio cooking program, "The Betty Crocker Cooking School of the Air."
Kraft Foods Inc., also known as Kraft Heinz since 2012, is a food manufacturing and processing company that is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. It was originally created in 1909 by James L. Kraft, Thomas H. McInerney, and Edward E. Rieck.
It was best known for Cadbury, Oreo, Oscar Mayer, Trident, Nabisco, and more. In 1930, the company was the largest dairy company in the United States and the world. The whole company started as a door-to-door cheese business.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Goodyear was created by Frank Seiberling in 1898 and was based in Akron, Ohio. The first factory opened in Akron and originally sold bicycle and carriage tires, rubber horseshoe pads, and poker chips. In 1903, Goodyear was granted a patent for the first tubeless automobile tire.
Today, Goodyear continues to manufacture tires for commercial trucks, automobiles, light trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, airplanes, race cars, farm equipment, and heavy earth-moving equipment.
American Express was first created in 1850 as an express mail business in Buffalo, New York. For many years, the company enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the movement of express shipments throughout New York. Today, it is a corporation specializing in payment card services and is one of the thirty components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company offers traveler's checks, charge cards, and credit cards.
In regards to the American Express card, "I love everything about the card. The benefits are too many to name. The customer service support is top of the line. The airport lounge services and free food and drinks pay for themselves. The elite status for hotel rewards and car rental is another plus." ----- Alssonb.