Timeline of American Business


When Amazon.com opened its cyber doors in July 1995 as an Internet bookseller, it did not even merit a mention in Time magazine. During the next four years, however, the company became not only a driving force in American business, it emerged as a shining example of how to turn an Internet start-up into a corporate empire.

Bezos, Jeff

E-commerce is indeed getting a lot of attention and at its center is Jeff Bezos (pronounced bay-zohs), founder, chief executive office (CEO), and head cheerleader for Amazon.com, the Internet bookselling company he founded in 1995. With about $1 million in capital, most borrowed from friends and family, Bezos built a multibillion-dollar empire in about five years and in doing so, revolutionized the way commerce is done on the Internet.

American Express

American Express was originally a shipping outfit founded in New York by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo (1818-1881) in 1850.

Wells, Henry

Henry Wells was a nineteenth century man of vision. A shipper by trade, he believed the eastern portion of the United States was a wide open market, just waiting for someone to come along and claim it.

AOL Time Warner

In 2001, America Online (AOL) bought media company Time Warner for $163 billion in the largest corporate purchase ever. The deal brought together the "new media" of digital technology and the Internet and the "old media" of publishing, television, and films.

Turner, Ted

At times, Ted Turner seemed best known for his outrageous comments or his sporting exploits than for his business skills. But during the 1970s and 1980s, he showed a knack for success in the television industry, taking a regional family business and turning it into an important media company.

Apple Computer, Inc.

Apple Computer, Inc., considered by many to be the most influential computer company in the world, began its operations in a suburban California garage. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launched Apple with one product: a small, simple computer called the Apple I.

Jobs, Steve

Steve Jobs, cofounder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Computer, Inc., may be one of the best examples of a modern business leader willing to "think outside the box." Jobs saw the potential of the personal computer as a tool for businesses, families, and schools at a time when computers were expensive and foreign to most people. At Apple and his other businesses, NeXT and Pixar, Jobs has always looked for what he calls the next "insanely great" product.

Avon Products, Inc.

When Avon started operations in 1886 under the name California Perfume Company (CPC), the idea of setting women up in their own businesses was a revolutionary one. Women did not yet have the right to vote and only about 15 percent of them worked outside the home.

Jung, Andrea

Andrea Jung joined Avon in 1993 as a consultant, and a year later became president of its product marketing group for the United States. Her job was to reverse a decade of slumping sales and to change the way women thought of Avon and its products.

Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are best friends as well as founders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., makers of super premium ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. In 1978, the pair opened their first ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in rural Burlington, Vermont.

Cohen, Ben

That is quite a condemnation from someone who himself is a successful businessman. But it pretty much sums up the philosophy behind Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., a super premium ice cream company founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

Greenfield, Jerry

Although he is half of the amazing ice cream duo of Ben & Jerry's, Jerry Greenfield is definitely the one in the back seat of the company vehicle while Cohen is the driver. Greenfield is the quiet one, preferring to leave the limelight to his more flamboyant partner.

The Boeing Company

From the early days of rickety biplanes to today's high-tech space vehicles, the Boeing Company has been a world leader in aerospace and aviation, known for its highly skilled engineers. Millions of commercial airline passengers fly its jets, including the 757, 777, and the 747 "jumbo jet." Boeing has also provided the U.S.

Boeing, William

In the early years of aviation, many young mechanics and engineers built their own "flying machines" and formed their own companies. Only a handful of those companies exist today.

Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola is not only the best-selling soft drink in the world, it is possibly the most recognized brand name. The company has been a leader in product development, advertising, and marketing for more than one hundred years, and has gone from annual sales of $50 in 1886 to worldwide sales of $20 billion in 2001.

Goizueta, Roberto C.

Roberto Goizueta was indeed part of the Coca-Cola culture, spending sixteen years as chief executive officer (CEO) of the soft drink giant. Born in Cuba and raised in the United States, Goizueta saw himself as Coca-Cola's ambassador to the world, always more willing to talk about the company rather than himself.

Ware, Carl H.

Carl Ware has always been a hard worker ever since he was a child. The hard work took him out of the cotton fields, through college, and into the executive world of Coca-Cola.

DaimlerChrysler AG

Chrysler has been part of American culture since automobiles were first introduced. For decades, it was the smallest of the "Big Three" U.S.

Iacocca, Lee

Lee Iacocca obviously paid close attention to his parents and he certainly made something happen on more than one occasion. After a 32-year career with Ford Motor, including helping to design the Mustang sports car, Iacocca engineered one of history's greatest corporate comebacks at Chrysler.

Dell Computer Corporation

In the history of computers and electronics, several well-known companies got their start in their founders' garages. Dell Computer Corporation (DCC) may be the only leading computer company in the world that began in a college dorm room.

Dell, Michael

As a teenager, Michael Dell hit upon a new way to sell and manufacture computers. He turned this idea into a working business and started his own company before he even made it to college.

DreamWorks SKG

In 1994, three of the most influential people in the entertainment world joined forces to form DreamWorks SKG. The best known was director Steven Spielberg, creator of some of the most popular films of all time.

Spielberg, Steven

Some filmmakers want to make audiences laugh or cry or jump out of their seats with fright. Others want to make people think about important historical events and the values people need to live a good life.

Eastman Kodak Company

For more than 120 years, Eastman Kodak has helped people around the world capture their most memorable occasions on film. The company began in the late 1800s, when Kodak founder George Eastman almost single-handedly took photography from a science practiced by a few professionals and dedicated amateurs to a hobby anyone could enjoy.

Eastman, George

George Eastman took a passion for photography and turned it into a new industry, producing easy-to-use film and cameras for people around the world. Eastman's own inventions fueled his first efforts.

Eddie Bauer, Inc.

Eddie Bauer, an outdoorsman who loved to fish and hunt, formed a company bearing his name in 1920 in Seattle, Washington. The company originally specialized in stringing tennis rackets, but it slowly grew into the favorite place for rugged sportsmen like Bauer to purchase gear for all kinds of outdoor and recreational activities.

Bauer, Eddie

Eddie Bauer was an sportsman, merchant, and inventor whose knack for design produced some of the twentieth century's most useful outerwear and recreational equipment. He was among the first to use goose down to line and insulate jackets, and created the flight parka that came to be known as the "Bomber Jacket" worn by thousands of American World War II pilots.

Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Company

The story of the Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Company is a bit complicated and not always sweet. In 1975, Wally Amos, a talent agent turned baker, introduced Americans to "gourmet" cookies, with a rich chewy taste not found in packaged cookies stocked on grocery store shelves.

Amos, Wally

Wally Amos—entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and author—founded the Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookie Company in 1975 selling bite-sized homemade chocolate chip cookies. While Famous Amos soon lived up to its name, thriving for nearly a decade, the company's founder lost control of his business.

FedEx Corporation

Since 1973 customers have turned to Federal Express when their important documents and small packages "absolutely, positively" must reach their destinations by the next morning. Over the years, founder Fred Smith transformed the company into the world's leading overnight shipper and a major force in ground shipping.

Smith, Fred

Fred Smith has been both an entrepreneur and a gambler. As most entrepreneurs do, he risked his own money to try something new in the business world.

Ford Motor Company

Thinking of the Ford Motor Company conjures up many images—durable trucks that are "built Ford tough"; fancy coupes like the Thunderbird; fast cars, such as the Mustang; and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) like Explorers. Ford cars are part of American culture, and have been since company founder, Henry Ford, designed and built his first Model T in 1908.

Ford, Henry

Henry Ford not only founded the Ford Motor Company, he helped give birth to the automobile industry in the United States. With his innovations to the manufacturing process and his commitment to his workers, he became a true American legend of the twentieth century.