Greatest American Entrepreneurs and Business Professionals in the USA
It has been said that if you were born in the United States of America you were 90% of the way towards becoming a success. The US offers may opportunities through Freedom, Democracy and a culture of hard work and education that fosters growth and success. Some of the greatest minds and wealthiest people over the last 200 years have been born in and/or have lived in the United States of America. By showing how these Great Americans have worked and lived, it will give great incite into what it takes to become successful in the USA.
Addition to this list was based upon the following criteria:
– Spent most of his/her adult life in the United States
– Created significant wealth (inherited wealth is not accepted)
– Displayed behavioral characteristics described in Top Characteristics of Successful People
– Revolutionized not only an industry, but also transformed the American culture
The list order is in chronological order based on date of birth.
John Pierpont J.P. Morgan
John D Rockefeller
Pierre Samuel duPont
Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr.
Walter Elias Walt Disney
Raymond Ray Kroc
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.
Samuel Moore Sam Walton
Mary Kay Ash
Steven Paul Steve Jobs
William Henry “Bill” Gates III
Lawrence “Larry” Page / Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin
Mark Elliot “Zuck” Zuckerberg
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the tenth son of soap maker. His father intended for Benjamin Franklin to enter into the clergy. However, Josiah Franklin could not afford it. Young Benjamin Franklin loved to read. He became an apprentice to his brother James, who was a printer. He would help compose pamphlets, set type and sell their products in the streets.
When Benjamin Franklin was 15 his brother started The New England Courant. James’s paper carried articles, opinion pieces, advertisements and news of ship schedules. Benjamin Franklin began
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writing letters at night and signing them with the name of a fictional widow, Silence Dogood who had advice and was very critical of the world around her, particularly concerning the issue of how women were treated. He would sneak the letters under the print shop door at night so no one knew who was writing the pieces. They were a smash hit and everyone wanted to know who was the real “Silence Dogood.”
In 1723, Benjamin Franklin left his home in Boston to go to New York. Unable to find work, he eventually arrived in Philadelphia where he found work as an apprentice printer. He did so well that the governor of Pennsylvania promised to set him up in business for himself if young Benjamin Franklin would go to London to buy printing equipment. He did go to London, but the governor did not keep his promise and Benjamin Franklin was forced to spend several months in England doing print work. Upon returning to Philadelphia, he tried helping to run a shop, but soon went back to being a printer’s helper. He eventually borrowed some money and set himself up in the printing business. Benjamin Franklin worked all the time. Soon he began getting the contract to do government jobs and started doing well. In addition to running a print shop, Benjamin Franklin and his wife also ran their own store selling everything from soap to fabric and he also ran a book store.
In 1729, Benjamin Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette. He printed the paper and often contributed articles to the paper under aliases. His newspaper soon became the most successful in the colonies. This newspaper, among other firsts, would print the first political cartoon. During the 1720s and 1730s, he organized the Junto, a young working-man’s group dedicated to self- and-civic improvement and joined the Masons. In 1733 he started publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack. Almanacs of the era were printed annually and contained things like weather reports, recipes, predictions and homilies. Franklin published his almanac under the guise of a man named Richard Saunders, a poor man who needed money to take care of his wife. What distinguished his almanac from others were his wit and creativity. Many famous phrases, such as “A penny saved is a penny earned,” come from Poor Richard’s Almanack. During the 1730’s, 1740’s and 1750’s, he helped launch projects to pave, clean and light Philadelphia’s streets and clean up the environment. He helped launch the Library Company, American Philosophical Society and the Pennsylvania Hospital – all of which are still in existence today. He organized Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company and founded the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance Against Loss by Fire
Benjamin Franklin’s printing business was thriving in this 1730s and 1740s. He started setting up franchise printing partnerships in other cities. By 1749 he retired from business and started concentrating on science, experiments and inventions. He invented a heat-efficient stove (Franklin stove), swim fins, glass harmonica and bifocals. He also studied the effects of electricity and lightning.
In 1757, he went to England to represent Pennsylvania in its fight with the descendants of the Penn family over who should represent the Colony. He remained in England to 1775, as a Colonial representative not only of Pennsylvania, but of Georgia, New Jersey and Massachusetts as well. In 1765, he was caught by surprise by America’s overwhelming opposition to the Stamp Act. His testimony before Parliament helped persuade the members to repeal the law. He started wondering if America should break free of England. Benjamin Franklin, though he had many friends in England, was tiring of the corruption he saw all around him in politics and royal circles. He, who had proposed a plan for a united colonies, now would earnestly start working toward that goal. He was elected to the Second Continental Congress and worked on a committee of 5 that helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In 1776 he signed the Declaration of Independence and sailed to France as an ambassador to the Court of Louis XVI. In part because of Benjamin Franklin’s popularity, the government of France signed a Treaty of Alliance with the Americans in 1778. He also helped secure loans and persuade the French they were doing the right thing. He was on hand to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1783, after the Americans had won the Revolution.
Benjamin Franklin returned to America and became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and signed the Constitution. One of his last public acts was writing an anti-slavery treatise in 1789. He died at the age of 84. 20,000 people attended the funeral.
Declaration of Independence
Liberty Bell, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA
Bowers Museum: Benjamin Franklin Exhibit
Andrew Carnegie (November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Although he had little formal education, his family believed in the importance of books and learning. His father was a handloom weaver. At 13, Andrew Carnegie came to the United States with his family and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Soon after, he went to work in a factory, earning $1.20 a week. The next year he found a job as a telegraph messenger. In 1851 he became a telegraph operator, and in 1853, he took a job with Pennsylvania Railroad. He worked as the assistant and telegraph operator to Thomas Scott, one of the railroad’s top executives. He
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learned a lot through this experience about the railroad industry and business. 3 years later, Andrew Carnegie was promoted to superintendent.
While working for the railroad, Andrew Carnegie made several smart investments, especially those in oil. In 1865, he left Pennsylvania Railroad to pursue other business interests, including Keystone Bridge Company. By the next decade, most of his time was dedicated to the steel industry. His business, which became known as the Carnegie Steel Company, revolutionized steel production in the United States. He built industrial plants around the country, using technology and methods that made manufacturing steel easier, faster and more productive. For every step of the process, he owned what he needed: the raw materials, ships and railroads for transporting the goods and coal fields to fuel the steel furnaces. This ownership strategy helped Andrew Carnegie become the dominant force in the steel industry and an exceedingly wealthy man. By 1889, Carnegie Steel Corporation was the largest of its kind in the world.
In 1901, Andrew Carnegie sold his business for a profit of $200 million to the United States Steel Corporation, started by legendary financier J.P. Morgan. At 65, Carnegie decided to spend the rest of his days helping others. Andrew Carnegie was an avid reader for much of his life. He donated approximately $5 million to the New York Public Library, established the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh (a.k.a. Carnegie-Mellon University), created the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and formed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It is said that more than 2,800 libraries were opened with his support.
Besides his business and charitable interests, he was friends with Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt. He wrote several books and numerous articles. Andrew Carnegie died of pneumonia in Lenox, Massachusetts. With a fortune estimated at $500 million at the time of his death, he left $350 million to charities, organizations and institutions that he believed in.
John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut. In the fall of 1848, he transferred to Hartford Public School and then to Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut. In September 1851, Morgan passed the entrance exam for the English High School of Boston, a school specializing in mathematics to prepare young men for careers in commerce. In the spring of 1852, he became ill with rheumatic fever. He was sent by his father to the Azores to recover. After almost a year, he returned to English High School in Boston to resume his studies. After graduation, he was sent to Bellerive near Vevey, Switzerland. When he became fluent in
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French, his father sent him to the University of Göttingen in order to improve his German.
J.P. Morgan went into banking in 1857 at his father’s London branch. In 1858, he moved to New York where he worked at the banking house of Duncan, Sherman & Company. From 1860 to 1864, as J. Pierpont Morgan & Company, he acted as agent in New York for his father’s firm. From 1864–1872, he was a member of the firm of Dabney, Morgan & Company. In 1871, he partnered with the Drexels of Philadelphia to form the New York firm of Drexel, Morgan & Company. Anthony J. Drexel became his mentor at the request of his father. During the early days of the American Civil War, J.P. Morgan financed the purchase and upgrade of rifles for the United States. He avoided military service by paying $300 for a substitute while he worked to finance the Union war effort.
After the death of Anthony Drexel in 1893, the firm was rechristened “J. P. Morgan & Company.” He kept close ties with Drexel & Company of Philadelphia, Morgan, Harjes & Company of Paris and J.S. Morgan & Company of London. About 15 years later he created Chase Manhattan Bank. J.P. Morgan’s ascent to power was tumultuous. He gained control of the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad in 1869. He broke the government-financing privileges of Jay Cooke and soon became involved in developing and financing a railroad empire by reorganizations and consolidations in all parts of the United States. In 1885, he reorganized the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railroad. In 1886, he reorganized the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad and in 1888 the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. He was heavily involved with railroad tycoon James J. Hill and the Great Northern Railway. After Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887, Morgan set up conferences in 1889 and 1890 that brought together railroad presidents in order to help the industry follow the new laws and write agreements. The conferences were the first of their kind and by creating a community of interest among competing lines paved the way for the great consolidations of the early 20th century.
J.P. Morgan reorganized business structures and management in order to return them to profitability. His reputation as a banker and financier also helped bring interest from investors to the businesses he took over. In 1896 Adolph Simon Ochs, who owned the Chattanooga Times, secured financing from J.P. Morgan to purchase the financially struggling New York Times. It became the standard for American journalism by cutting prices, investing in news gathering and insisting on the highest quality of writing and reporting.
During the Panic of 1893, the Federal Treasury was nearly out of gold. President Grover Cleveland arranged for J.P. Morgan to create a private syndicate on Wall Street to supply the U.S. Treasury with $65 million in gold to float a bond issue that restored the treasury surplus of $100 million.
By 1900, J.P. Morgan controlled one of the most powerful banking houses in the world. He began talks with Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie in 1900. The goal was to buy out Carnegie’s steel business and merge it with several other steel, coal, mining and shipping firms to create the United States Steel Corporation. In 1901 U.S. Steel was the first billion-dollar company in the world with an authorized capitalization of $1.4 billion. U.S. Steel aimed to achieve greater economies of scale, reduce transportation and resource costs, expand product lines and improve distribution. It was also planned to allow the United States to compete globally with Britain and Germany. U.S. Steel’s size was claimed by Charles M. Schwab and others to allow the company to pursue distant international markets. U.S. Steel was regarded as a monopoly by critics, as the business was attempting to dominate not only steel but also the construction of bridges, ships, railroad cars and rails, wire, nails and a host of other products. With U.S. Steel, J.P. Morgan had captured two-thirds of the steel market and Charles M. Schwab was confident that the company would soon hold a 75% market share. However, after 1901 the businesses’ market share dropped. Charles M. Schwab resigned from U.S. Steel in 1903 to form Bethlehem Steel, which became the second largest U.S. producer.
U.S. Steel was non-union and experienced steel producers, led by Charles M. Schwab, wanted to keep it that way with aggressive tactics to identify and root out trouble makers. The lawyers and bankers who had organized the merger, notably J.P. Morgan and the CEO Elbert Gary were more concerned with long-run profits, stability, good public relations and avoiding trouble. The bankers’ views generally prevailed, and the result was a labor policy that favored the business. U.S. Steel was not unionized until the late 1930s.
The Panic of 1907 was a financial crisis that almost crippled the American economy. Major New York banks were on the verge of bankruptcy and there was no mechanism to rescue them until J.P. Morgan stepped in and took charge, resolving the crisis. Treasury Secretary George B. Cortelyou earmarked $35 million of federal money to manage the crisis but had no easy way to use it. J.P. Morgan organized a team of bank and trust executives which redirected money between banks, secured further international lines of credit and bought plummeting stocks of healthy corporations. A delicate political issue arose regarding the brokerage firm of Moore and Schley, which was involved in the stock of Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company. Moore and Schley had pledged over $6 million of the Tennessee Coal and Iron (TCI) stock for loans among the Wall Street banks. The banks had called the loans and the firm could not pay. If Moore and Schley should fail, a hundred more failures would follow and then all Wall Street could fall apart. J.P. Morgan decided they had to save Moore and Schley. TCI was one of the chief competitors of U.S. Steel and it owned valuable iron and coal deposits. J.P. Morgan controlled U.S. Steel and he decided it had to buy the TCI stock from Moore and Schley. Judge Gary, head of US Steel, agreed, but would there be antitrust implications that could cause trouble for US Steel, which was already dominant in the steel industry. J.P. Morgan sent Judge Gary to see President Theodore Roosevelt, who promised legal immunity for the deal. U.S. Steel paid $30 million for the TCI stock and Moore and Schley was saved. The announcement had an immediate effect. By November 7, 1907, the panic was over. Vowing to never let it happen again banking and political leaders, led by Senator Nelson Aldrich, devised a plan that became the Federal Reserve System in 1913.
From 1890-1913, 42 major corporations were organized or their securities were underwritten, in whole or part, by J. P. Morgan and Company, including: General Electric Co., International Mercantile Marine, Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad, Northern Pacific Railway System, Pennsylvania Railroad and Reading Railroad.
J.P. Morgan was scheduled to travel on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, but canceled at the last minute. White Star Line, Titanic’s operator, was part of J.P. Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine Company and he was to have his own private suite and promenade deck on the ship. He died while traveling in Rome, Italy. He was a notable collector of books, pictures, clocks and other art objects, many loaned or given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (of which he was president and was a major force in its establishment), and many housed in his London house and in his private library. He was a benefactor of the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Groton School, Harvard University, Trinity College, the Lying-in Hospital of the City of New York and the New York trade schools.
J.P. Morgan was one of America’s most important collectors of gems and had assembled the most important gem collection in the U.S. Tiffany & Co. assembled his first collection under their Chief Gemologist George Frederick Kunz. The collection was exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. The exhibit won two golden awards and drew the attention of important scholars, lapidaries and the general public. In 1911 Kunz named a newly found gem after his biggest customer: morganite.
J. P. Morgan, Jr. took over the business at his father’s death, but was never as influential. As required by the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, the “House of Morgan” became three entities: J.P. Morgan & Co., which later became Morgan Guaranty Trust, Morgan Stanley, an investment house, and Morgan Grenfell in London, an overseas securities house.
The Great Depression
John Davison Rockefeller (July 8, 1839 – May 23, 1937) was born in Richford, New York. His father owned farm property and traded in many goods, including lumber and patent medicines. His mother was very strict. In 1953 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from high school there and excelled in mathematics. After graduation he attended a commercial college for three months, after which he found his first job at the age of 16 as a produce clerk. In 1859, he started his first trading company, Clark and Rockefeller, with a young Englishman. The first year they grossed $450,000. Clark did the fieldwork while John D Rockefeller
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controlled office management, bookkeeping and relationships with bankers.
John D Rockefeller showed a genius for organization and method. The firm prospered during the Civil War. With the Pennsylvania oil strike (1859) and the building of a railroad to Cleveland, they branched out into oil refining with Samuel Andrews, who had technical knowledge of the field. Within two years John D Rockefeller became senior partner; Clark was bought out, and the firm Rockefeller and Andrews became Cleveland’s largest refinery.
With financial help from S. V. Harkness and H. M. Flagler, who also secured favorable railroad freight rebates, John D Rockefeller survived the bitter competition in the oil industry. The Standard Oil Company, started in Ohio in 1870 by John D Rockefeller, his brother William, Flagler, Harkness and Andrews, had a worth of $1,000,000 and paid a profit of 40% a year later. While Standard Oil controlled one-tenth of American refining, the competition remained.
Rockefeller still hoped to control the oil industry. He bought out most of the Cleveland refineries as well as others in New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. He turned to new transportation methods, including the railroad tank car and the pipeline. By 1879 he was refining 90% of American oil, and Standard used its own tank car fleet, ships, docking facilities, barrel-making plants, depots and warehouses.
As his control approached near-monopoly, the Pennsylvania Railroad, in 1877, created a refining company to try to break John D. Rockefeller’s control. But railroad strikes forced them to surrender to Standard Oil. By 1883, after winning control of the pipeline industry, Standard’s monopoly was at a peak. John D. Rockefeller created America’s first great “trust” in 1882. Ever since 1872, Standard had placed its profits outside Ohio to Flagler as “trustee” because laws denied one company’s ownership of another’s stock. All profits went to the Ohio company while the outside businesses remained independent. Standard Oil Trust received the stock of 40 businesses and gave the various shareholders trust certificates in return. The trust had a worth of about $70 million dollars, making it the world’s largest and richest industrial organization.
In the 1880’s, John D. Rockefeller’s business began to change. He moved into producing crude oil and moved his wells westward with the new fields opening up. Standard also entered foreign markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America. From 1885 a committee system of management was developed to control Standard Oil’s enormous empire.
Public opposition to Standard Oil grew. John D Rockefeller was criticized for railroad rebates, price fixing and bribery which crushed smaller firms by unfair competition. Standard Oil was investigated by the New York State Senate and by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1888. Two years later the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated Standard’s original trust agreement. John D. Rockefeller formally disbanded the organization and in 1899 Standard was recreated legally under a new form as a “holding company,” (this merger was dissolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1911, long after he retired from active control in 1897).
In 1893, he helped develop the Mesabi iron ore range of Minnesota. By 1896 his Consolidated Iron Mines owned a great fleet of ore boats and virtually controlled Great Lakes shipping. He now had the power to control the steel industry. He made an alliance with Andrew Carnegie in 1896. John D. Rockefeller agreed not to enter steelmaking and Carnegie agreed not to touch transportation. In 1901 he sold his ore holdings to the new merger created by Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan, U.S. Steel. In that year his fortune passed $200 million.
John D. Rockefeller consistently gave away 10% of his earnings to charity. His donations grew with his fortune, and he also gave time and energy to philanthropic causes. He created the University of Chicago, Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research in New York (now Rockefeller University), General Education Board and the Rockefeller Foundation. The total of John D. Rockefeller’s lifetime philanthropies has been estimated at about $550 million.
John D. Rockefeller’s personal life was fairly simple. He was a man of few passions who lived for his work, and his great talent was his organizing genius and drive for order, pursued with great single-mindedness and concentration. His life was absorbed by business and family, and later by organized giving. He created order, efficiency and planning with extraordinary success and sweeping vision.
Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was born to middle-class parents in Milan, Ohio. In 1854, his family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. At an early age, Thomas Edison was hyperactive and difficult to control in school. So he was home-schooled by his mother, who was the daughter of a respected Presbyterian minister. Thomas Edison enjoyed reading and reciting poetry. At 11, his parents introduced him to the local library and he began to research many topics and ideas. At 12, he began to asks questions of his parents, especially those related to Science and Mathematics, that they could not answer. So they hired a tutor
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to help their son understand more complex subjects, such as Newtonian physics. The simple beauty of Newton’s physical laws helped him sharpen his own style of clear thinking, objective examination and experimentation. He also developed a strong sense of perseverance, hard work and mental & physical stamina. He also got a job selling newspapers, snacks and candy on the local railroad. He also started a side business selling fruits and vegetables.
And 14, during the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, he exploited his access to the news releases and published them in his own newspaper. He quickly enticed over 300 commuters to subscribe to his newspaper. This was the first publication to be type-set, printed and sold on a train. At its peak, his publishing venture netted him more than $10 per day. He tooks this money and invested in a chemical laboratory that he setup in the basement. It became virtually impossible for him to learn in a traditional educational setting. Adapting to whatever he was convinced was out of his control, he reacted by committing himself to compensating via alternative methods. Ultimately, he became totally deaf in his left ear and approximately 80% deaf in his right ear.
One of the most significant events in his life occurred when he was taught Morse code and the telegraph. By 15, he had mastered the basics of Morse Code and telegraphy and obtained a job as a replacement for one of the thousands of telegraph operators who had gone off to serve in the Civil War. At age 16, after working in a variety of telegraph offices he finally came up with his first invention. Called an “automatic repeater,” it transmitted telegraph signals between unmanned stations, allowing people to easily and accurately translate code at their own speed and convenience.
In 1868 his mother was beginning to show signs of insanity, his father quit his job and the local bank was about to foreclose on the house. Thomas Edison set out to make his fortunes. He applied for a permanent job as a telegrapher with the relatively prestigious Western Union Company in Boston. During the latter days of the “Age of the Telegraph,” Thomas Edison worked 12 hours a day and 6 days a week for Western Union. Meanwhile, he continued working on his own projects and, within 6 months, had applied for and received his very first patent – an electric vote-recording machine. The Massachusetts Legislature was not interested in his invention. Although he was disappointed by this, he realized his idea was so far ahead of its time that no one was willing to buy it.
While in Boston, he was exposed to lectures at Boston Tech (which became the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and new concepts related to telegraph technology. Alexander Graham Bell, who was also living in Boston, was also aware of new communication technologies. The principles discussed ultimately led to the invention of the first articulating telephone, the first fax machine, the first microphone and other communication related inventions.
Later, he moved to New York City. Penniless, and having begged for a cup of tea, he walked through some of the offices in New York’s financial district. Observing that the manager of a local brokerage firm was in a panic, Thomas Edison determined that a stock-ticker in his office had just broken down. He grasped the opportunity. Since he had been sleeping in the basement of the building for a few days – and doing quite a bit of snooping around – he already had a pretty good idea of what the device was supposed to do. He reached down and manipulated a loose spring back to where it belonged. The device began to run perfectly. The office manager was so ecstatic that he hired Thomas Edison to make all such repairs for the company for a salary of $300.00 per month. This was twice the going rate for a top electrician in New York City. During his free time, he soon resumed his work with the telegraph, the quadruplex transmitter, the stock-ticker, etc. Soon a corporation paid him $40,000 for all of his rights to the stock-ticker.
At age 29, he commenced work on the carbon transmitter, which ultimately made Alexander Graham Bell’s “articulating” telephone audible enough for practical use. Shortly after Edison moved his laboratory to Menlo Park, N.J. in 1876, he invented – in 1877 – the first phonograph. In 1879, he invented the first commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb. In 1883 and 1884, he introduced the world’s first economically viable system of centrally generating and distributing electric light, heat and power. In 1887, Thomas Edison was recognized for having set up the world’s first full fledged research and development center in West Orange, New Jersey. This operation was the largest scientific testing laboratory in the world. In 1890, he developed the first Vitascope, which would lead to the first silent motion pictures. In 1892, Edison General Electric Co. had merged with another firm to become General Electric Corporation, in which he was a major stockholder. At the turn-of-the-century, Thomas Edison invented the first practical dictaphone, mimeograph and storage battery. After creating the “kinetiscope” and the first silent film in 1904, he went on to introduce “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903, which was a ten minute clip that was his first attempt to blend audio with silent moving images to produce “talking pictures.” When World War I began, he was asked by the U. S. Government to create defensive devices for submarines and ships. During this time, he also perfected a number of important inventions relating to the enhanced use of rubber, concrete and ethanol. By 83, he held 1093 patents.
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) grew up on a prosperous family farm in what is now Dearborn, Michigan. He had a typical rural 19th Century childhood spending days in a one-room school and doing farm chores. At an early age, he showed an interest in mechanics and engineering. At 16, he left home for Detroit to work as an apprentice machinist for the next 3 years. During the next few years, Henry Ford divided his time between operating & repairing steam engines, working in a Detroit factory, over-hauling his father’s farm machinery and working reluctantly on the farm. Upon his marriage to Clara Bryant in 1888, Henry Ford supported his
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family by operating a sawmill. In 1891, he became an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. His promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893 gave him enough time and money to devote attention to his personal engineering experiments on internal combustion engines. In 1896 he developed a self-propelled Quadricycle.
After two unsuccessful attempts to establish an automobile manufacturing company, the Ford Motor Company was incorporated in 1903 with Henry Ford as Vice President and Chief Engineer. In the early years of car production, it produced only a few cars a day. Groups of two or three men worked on each car with made to order components. Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908. This vehicle initiated a new era in personal transportation. It was inexpensive and easy to operate. It immediately becoming a huge success. By 1913, Henry Ford combined precision manufacturing, standardized and interchangeable parts, a division of labor and a continuous moving assembly line. Workers remained in place, adding one component to each automobile as it moved past them on the line. The moving assembly line revolutionized automobile production by significantly reducing assembly time per vehicle, thus lowering production costs. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model T’s.
During the late 1910’s and early 1920’s, Ford Motor Company constructed the world’s largest industrial complex along the banks of the Rouge River in Dearborn, Michigan. It included all the elements needed for automobile production: a steel mill, glass factory and automobile assembly line. Iron ore and coal were brought in on Great Lakes steamers and by railroad. Rolling mills, forges and assembly shops transformed the steel into springs, axles and car bodies. Foundries converted iron into engine blocks and cylinder heads that were assembled with other components into engines.
Pierre Samuel duPont (January 15, 1870 – April 4, 1954) was born in Wilmington, Delaware. He was the great-great-grandson of Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours, a French economist elected to the Constituent Assembly. Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours’ son, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, who emigrated to America with his grandfather to escape the French Revolution, founded the DuPont company in 1802. Frustrated by the poor quality of black powder made in America, and familiar with the powder-making process, came up with the idea to make gunpowder. His father agreed to finance the venture. Thomas Jefferson supported the idea and suggested the family set up shop in Virginia, but Eleuthère Irénée du Pont was uncomfortable with the institution of slavery
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in that state, and settled along the Brandywine River in Delaware instead. In 1805, almost 45,000 pounds of gunpowder was produced. Eleuthère Irénée du Pont died in 1834, leaving the company management to his children.
Eleuthère Irénée du Pont’s son, Alfred Victor, took over the company. His son, Lammot, was a chemist and businessman. Lammot patented a way to make blasting powder without saltpeter and also formed the Gunpowder Trade Association. Lammot’s uncle Henry set Lammot up in a company to manufacture dynamite, which had been invented by Alfred Nobel. Within 6 months the firm was producing a ton of the explosive per day.
Pierre Samuel duPont, eldest son of Lammot, took over the business when his father died in an explosion. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1890 and became assistant superintendent at Brandywine Mills. He and his cousin developed the first American smokeless gunpowder in 1892. Most of the 1890’s he spent working with the management at a steel firm partly owned by DuPont, the Johnson Street Rail Company in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Here he learned to deal with money from the company’s president, Arthur Moxham. In 1899, he quit and took over the Johnson Company. In 1901, while he was supervising the liquidation of Johnson Company assets in Lorain, OH, he employed John J. Raskob as a private secretary, beginning a long and profitable business and personal relationship between the two.
Pierre S. duPont and his cousins purchased E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in 1902, in order to keep the company in family hands, after the death of its president, Eugene I. du Pont. They set about buying smaller powder firms. Until 1914, during Coleman du Pont’s illness, Pierre du Pont served as treasurer, executive vice-president and acting president. In 1915, a group headed by Pierre du Pont bought Coleman’s stock.
Pierre du Pont served as DuPont’s president until 1919. He gave the DuPont company a modern management structure and modern accounting policies and made the concept of return on investment primary. During World War I, the company grew very quickly due to advance payments on Allied munition contracts. He also established many other DuPont interests in other industries.
Pierre du Pont was a significant figure in the success of General Motors, building a large personal investment in the company as well as supporting Raskob’s proposal for DuPont to invest in the automobile company. Pierre du Pont resigned the chairmanship of GM in response to GM President Alfred Sloan’s dispute with Raskob over Raskob’s involvement with the Democratic National Committee. When Pierre du Pont retired from its Board of Directors, GM was the largest company in the world.
Pierre du Pont retired from DuPont’s board in 1940. He also served on the Delaware State Board of Education and donated millions to Delaware’s public schools. A building at the University of Delaware, Du Pont Hall, is named in his honor. It houses the offices and laboratories for the College of Engineering. He is famous for opening his personal estate, Longwood Gardens, with its beautiful gardens, fountains, and conservatory, to the public. He was a longtime bachelor, eventually marrying his cousin Alice Belin in 1915 after the death of his mother, and had no children.
During World War 2, the company continued to be a major producer of war supplies. As the inventor and manufacturer of nylon, DuPont helped produce the raw materials for parachutes, powder bags and tires. DuPont also played a major role in the Manhattan Project in 1943, designing, building and operating the Hanford plutonium producing plant and the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina. After the war, DuPont developed Mylar, Dacron, Orlon and Lycra in the 1950’s, and Tyvek, Kevlar, Nomex, Qiana, Corfam and Corian in the 1960’s. DuPont materials were critical to the success of the Apollo Space program.
Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. (May 23, 1875 – February 17, 1966) was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied electrical engineering and graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1895. He became president and owner of Hyatt Roller Bearing, a company that made roller and ball bearings, in 1899. At the beginning of the 20th century, Ford Motor Company bought bearings from Hyatt Roller Bearing. In 1916 his company merged with United Motors Company which eventually became part of General Motors Corporation. He became Vice-President, then President (1923), and finally Chairman of the Board (1937) of General Motors
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Corporation. In 1934, he established the philanthropic, nonprofit Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. GM under Alfred Sloan became famous for managing diverse operations.
Alfred Sloan is credited with establishing annual styling changes, from which came the concept of planned obsolescence. He also established a pricing structure in which Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac did not compete with each other, and buyers could be kept in the GM “family” as their buying power and preferences changed as they aged. These concepts, along with Ford Motor Company’s resistance to the change in the 1920’s, propelled GM to industry sales leadership, a position it retained for over 70 years. Under his direction, GM became the largest, most successful and profitable industrial enterprise the world had ever known up to date.
In the 1930’s General Motors Corporation, long hostile to unionization, confronted its workforce, newly organized and ready for labor rights, in an extended contest for control. Alfred Sloan was averse to violence associated with Henry Ford. He preferred the subtle use of spying and had built up the best undercover apparatus the business community had ever seen up to that time. When the workers organized the massive Flint Sit-Down Strike in 1936, Alfred Sloan found that espionage had little value in the face of such open tactics.
The world’s first university-based executive education program, the Sloan Fellows, was created in 1931 at MIT under the sponsorship of Alfred Sloan. A Sloan Foundation grant established the MIT School of Industrial Management in 1952 with the charge of educating the “ideal manager”, and the school was renamed in his honor as the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management, one of the world’s premier business schools. Additional grants established a Sloan Institute of Hospital Administration Sloan Program in Health Administration in 1955 at Cornell University Cornell University, the first two year graduate program of its type in the US, a Sloan Fellows Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1957, and at London Business School in 1965. They became degree programs in 1976, awarding the degree of Master of Science in Management. His name is also remembered in the Sloan-Kettering Institute and Cancer Center in New York. In 1951, Sloan received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York.” The Alfred P. Sloan Museum, showcasing the evolution of the automobile industry and traveling galleries, is located in Flint, Michigan. Alfred Sloan maintained an office in 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Rockefeller Center, now known as the GE Building. He retired as GM chairman on April 2, 1956 and died in 1966. Mr. Sloan was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1975.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic non-profit organization established by Alfred Sloan in 1934. The Foundation’s programs and interests fall into the areas of science and technology, standard of living, economic performance, and education and careers in science and technology. The total assets of the Sloan Foundation have a market value of about $1.8 billion.
Walter Elias “Walt” Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was born in Chicago, Illinois. In 1906, when Walt Disney was 4, his family moved to a farm in Marceline, Missouri. While in Marceline, Disney developed his love for drawing. One of their neighbors, a retired doctor named “Doc” Sherwood, paid him to draw pictures of Sherwood’s horse. He also developed his love for trains in Marceline, which owed its existence to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through town. The Disneys remained in Marceline
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for four years, before moving to Kansas City in 1911. There, Walt Disney attended Benton Grammar School where he met Walter Pfeiffer. The Pfeiffers were theatre aficionados, and introduced him to the world of vaudeville and motion pictures. He also attended Saturday courses at the Kansas City Art Institute.
In 1917, Walt Disney’s father acquired shares in the O-Zell jelly factory in Chicago and moved his family back there. In the fall, Disney began his freshman year at McKinley High School and began taking night courses at the Chicago Art Institute. He became the cartoonist for the school newspaper. His cartoons were very patriotic, focusing on World War I. Disney dropped out of high school at the age of 16. Being underage for the US Army, Walt and one of his friends joined the Red Cross. Soon after he joined The Red Cross, he was sent to France for a year, where he drove an ambulance. In 1919, he left home and moved back to Kansas City to begin his artistic career. At Pesmen-Rubin, Walt Disney created ads for newspapers, magazines, and movie theaters. It was here that he met a cartoonist named Ubbe Iwerks. When their time at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio expired, they were both without a job, and they decided to start their own commercial company. However, following a rough start, Walt Disney left temporarily to earn money at Kansas City Film Ad Company, and was soon joined by Ubbe Iwerks who was not able to run the business alone. While working for the Kansas City Film Ad Company, where he made commercials based on cutout animation, Disney took up an interest in the field of animation, and decided to become an animator. He was allowed by the owner of the Ad Company to borrow a camera from work, which he could use to experiment with at home. After reading a book by Edwin G. Lutz, called Animated Cartoons: How They Are Made, Their Origin and Development, he found cell animation to be much more promising than the cutout animation he was doing. Walt Disney eventually opened his own animation business, and recruited a fellow co-worker at the Kansas City Film Ad Company, Fred Harman, as his first employee. They secured a deal with local theater owner Frank L. Newman to screen their cartoons. His cartoons became widely popular in the Kansas City area. Through their success, Walt Disney was able to acquire his own studio and hire a number of animators, including Ubbe Iwerks. Unfortunately, with all his high employee salaries the studio became loaded with debt and went bankrupt.
Walt Disney and his brother pooled their money to set up a cartoon studio in Hollywood. He sent an unfinished print of the Alice Comedies to New York distributor Margaret Winkler, who promptly wrote back to him. She was keen on a distribution deal with Walt Disney for more live-action/animated shorts based upon Alice’s Wonderland.
In 1927, Charles Mintz had married Margaret Winkler and assumed control of her business, and ordered a new all-animated series to be put into production for distribution through Universal Pictures. The new series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was an almost instant success, and the character, Oswald — drawn and created by Iwerks — became a popular figure. The Disney studio expanded.
In February 1928, Walt Disney went to New York to negotiate a higher fee per short from Mintz. Mintz announced that he wanted to reduce the fee he paid Walt Disney per short and that he had most of his main animators under contract and would start his own studio if he did not accept the reduced production budgets. Universal, not Walt Disney, owned the Oswald trademark, and could make the films without Disney. Disney declined Mintz’s offer and lost most of his animation staff.
After losing the rights to Oswald, Walt Disney felt the need to develop a new character. He based the character on a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in his Laugh-O-Gram studio in Kansas City. Ubbe Iwerks reworked the sketches made by Walt Disney so the character was easier to animate. Mickey’s voice and personality was provided by Disney. The initial films were animated by Ubbe Iwerks. The first animated short with Mickey Mouse was titled “Plane Crazy” which was a silent film. After failing to find a distributor for Plane Crazy or its follow-up, The Gallopin’ Gaucho, Walt Disney created a cartoon with sound called Steamboat Willie. A businessman named Pat Powers provided Walt Disney with both distribution and Cinephone, a sound-synchronization process. Steamboat Willie became an instant success. Walt Disney provided the vocal effects for the earliest cartoons and performed as the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1946. Mickey Mouse soon eclipsed Felix the Cat as the world’s most popular cartoon character.
In late 1932, Herbert Kalmus, who had just completed work on the first three-strip technicolor camera, approached Walt Disney and convinced him to redo Flowers and Trees, which was originally done in black and white, with three-strip Technicolor. Flowers and Trees would go on to be a phenomenal success and would also win the first Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons for 1932. Walt Disney was also able to negotiate a two-year deal with Technicolor, giving him the sole right to use three-strip Technicolor. In 1932, Walt Disney received a special Academy Award for the creation of “Mickey Mouse.” In 1936, Ubbe Iwerks shut his studio to work on various projects dealing with animation technology and would go on to pioneer a number of film processes and specialized animation technologies.
With several technical advances now available, Walt Disney had the ability to produce the feature film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” It was in full production from 1934 until mid-1937, when the studio ran out of money. To obtain the funding to complete Snow White, Walt Disney had to show a rough cut of the motion picture to loan officers at the Bank of America, who gave the studio the money to finish the picture. The finished film premiered on December 21, 1937. The film became the most successful motion picture of 1938 and earned over $8 million in its original theatrical release.
The success of Snow White allowed Walt Disney to build a new campus for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which opened for business on December 24, 1939. The feature animation staff, having just completed Pinocchio, continued work on Fantasia and Bambi and the early production stages of Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan while the shorts staff continued work on the Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto cartoon series.
Shortly after the release of Dumbo in October 1941, the United States entered World War II. The U.S. Army contracted most of the Disney studio’s facilities and had the staff create training and instructional films for the military, home-front morale-boosting shorts such as Der Fuehrer’s Face and the feature film Victory Through Air Power in 1943. However, the military films did not generate income, and the feature film Bambi underperformed when it was released in April 1942. Disney successfully re-issued Snow White in 1944, establishing a seven-year re-release tradition for Disney features.
By the late 1940’s, the studio had recovered enough to continue production on the full-length features Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, both of which had been shelved during the war years, and began work on Cinderella, which became Walt Disney’s most successful film since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
On a business trip to Chicago in the late-1940’s, Walt Disney drew sketches of his ideas for an amusement park where he envisioned his employees spending time with their children. He got his idea for a children’s theme park after visiting Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, California. This plan was originally meant for a plot located south of the Studio, across the street. The original ideas developed into a concept for a larger enterprise that was to become Disneyland. He spent five years of his life developing Disneyland and created a new subsidiary of his company, called WED Enterprises, to carry out the planning and production of the park. A small group of Disney studio employees joined the Disneyland development project as engineers and planners, and were dubbed Imagineers. Disneyland officially opened on July 18, 1955. On Sunday, July 17, 1955, Disneyland hosted a live TV preview, among the thousands of people who came out for the preview were Ronald Reagan, Bob Cummings and Art Linkletter, who shared cohosting duties, as well as the mayor of Anaheim.
As Walt Disney Productions began work on Disneyland, it also began expanding its other entertainment operations. In 1950, Treasure Island became the studio’s first all-live-action feature, and was soon followed by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (in CinemaScope, 1954), Old Yeller (1957), The Shaggy Dog (1959), Pollyanna (1960), Swiss Family Robinson (1960), The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), and The Parent Trap (1961). The Walt Disney Studio produced its first TV special, One Hour in Wonderland, in 1950. Disney began hosting a weekly anthology series on ABC named Disneyland after the park, where he showed clips of past Disney productions, gave tours of his studio, and familiarized the public with Disneyland as it was being constructed in Anaheim, California. In 1955, the studio’s first daily television show, Mickey Mouse Club debuted, which would continue in many various incarnations into the 1990’s.
By the early 1960’s, the Walt Disney empire was a major success, and Walt Disney Productions had established itself as the world’s leading producer of family entertainment. Walt Disney was the Head of Pageantry for the 1960 Winter Olympics.
In early 1964, Disney announced plans to develop another theme park located a few miles west of Orlando, Florida which was to be called Walt Disney World. Disney World was to include a larger, more elaborate version of Disneyland which was to be called the Magic Kingdom. It would also feature a number of golf courses and resort hotels. The heart of Disney World, however, was to be the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, or EPCOT for short.
After Walt Disney’s death, Roy Disney returned from retirement to take full control of Walt Disney Productions and WED Enterprises. In October 1971, the families of Walt and Roy met in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom to officially open the Walt Disney World Resort.
Today, Walt Disney’s animation/motion picture studios and theme parks have developed into a multi-billion dollar television, motion picture, vacation destination and media corporation that all carry his name. The Walt Disney Company today owns, among other assets, 5 vacation resorts, 11 theme parks, 2 water parks, 39 hotels, 8 motion picture studios, 6 record labels, 11 cable television networks and 1 television network. As of 2007, the company had an annual revenue of over $35 billion.
In his later years, Walt Disney devoted substantial time towards funding The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). It was formed in 1961 through a merger of the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music and the Chouinard Art Institute, which had helped in the training of the animation staff during the 1930’s. When Walt Disney died, one-fourth of his estate went towards CalArts, which helped in building its campus. In his will, he paved the way for creation of several charitable trusts which included one for the California Institute of the Arts and other for the Disney Foundation. He also donated 38 acres of the Golden Oaks ranch in Valencia for the school to be built on. CalArts moved onto the Valencia campus in 1972.
In 2009, the Walt Disney Family Museum opened in the Presidio of San Francisco. Thousands of artifacts of Walt Disney’s life and career are on display, including 248 awards he received. Walt Disney holds the record for number of Academy Award nominations (59) and number of awarded Oscars (26). Walt Disney was the inaugural recipient of a star on the Anaheim walk of stars. The star was awarded in honor of Walt Disney’s significant contributions to the city of Anaheim, California. Walt Disney has 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and the other for television.
Walt Disney received the Congressional Gold Medal on May 24, 1968 and the Légion d’Honneur in France in 1935. In 1935, he received a special medal from the League of Nations for the creation of Mickey Mouse. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964. On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted Walt Disney into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. A minor planet, 4017 Disneya, discovered in 1980 by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Georgievna Karachkina, is named after him. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, opened in 2003, was named in his honor.
Raymond Albert “Ray” Kroc (October 5, 1902 – January 14, 1984) was born in Oak Park, Illinois, the son of relatively poor parents. He went to public schools in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, but did not graduate. He was as an ambulance driver during World War I. After the war, he became a jazz pianist. Upon his marriage in 1922 he went to work for the Lily-Tulip Cup Company, but soon left to become musical director for one of Chicago’s pioneer radio stations, WGES. There he played the piano, arranged the music, accompanied singers and hired musicians. Later following land speculation in Florida, he began to sell real estate in Fort Lauderdale. When the boom collapsed in 1926, he was so broke that he had to play piano in a night club to send his wife and daughter back to Chicago by train. He later followed them in his dilapidated Model-T Ford.
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Ray Kroc returned to Lily-Tulip as a salesman, later becoming midwestern sales manager. In 1937 he came upon a new invention, a machine that could mix five milk shakes at one time, called the “multi-mixer.” He founded his own company to serve as exclusive distributor for the product in 1941. Many years later, in 1954, he heard of a drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California, owned by Richard and Maurice D. McDonald, which was operating eight of his multi-mixers. Curious as to how they could possibly use so many machines in a small establishment, Kroc found the brothers were doing a remarkable business selling only hamburgers, french fries, and milk shakes. He recognized a potential gold mine and approached the brothers about starting a franchise operation based on their restaurant, selling hamburgers for 15 cents, fries for 10 cents and shakes for 20 cents. After some negotiation the McDonald brothers agreed. Under the arrangement, they would receive one-half of one percent of the gross, Kroc would use the McDonald name and concept, pledged to retain high levels of quality, and would retain their symbol – the golden arches. Ray Kroc opened the first of the chain of McDonald’s restaurants on April 15, 1955, in Des Plaines, Illinois. On that first day, Ray Kroc’s restaurant had sales of $366.12. By 1961 there were over 130 outlets, and in that year he bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million. From these humble beginnings emerged an empire which by 1984 had 8,300 restaurants in 34 countries with sales of more than $10 billion.
Ray Kroc revolutionized the restaurant industry in much the same way that Henry Ford transformed the automobile industry a generation earlier. His great contribution was to figure out how to mass-produce food uniformly in large quantities, and then to convince millions of Americans that they needed to buy this food. To accomplish the first objective, he reduced the food business to a science. He researched every aspect of food. The precision of the operation can be appreciated when it is understood that each McDonald’s hamburger was made with a 1.6 ounce beef patty, not more than 18.9 percent fat. It is exactly 0.221 inches thick and 3.875 inches wide.
The other side of the McDonald’s success story is franchising, marketing and advertising. Three-quarters of McDonald’s restaurants are run by franchisees. By 1985 each franchise cost about $250,000 and ran for 20 years, after which it reverted to the company. When choosing a franchisee, Ray Kroc looked for someone who was good with people. The franchise owners were trained at McDonald’s “Hamburger University” in Elk Grove, Illinois. The company also provided a lengthy manual that outlined every aspect of the operation, from how to make a milk shake to how to be responsive to the community. Also critical to the business was advertising. Hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into advertising.
Despite its astounding success, and despite the fact that the company worked hard to project a charitable and community-oriented image, McDonald’s came under attack on several fronts. A number of communities refused to allow its restaurants in their area. The company was also criticized for its extensive use of part-time teenage help, and especially for the $200,000 which Ray Kroc donated to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign, since the administration soon after recommended amending the minimum wage law to provide for a “youth differential.” This would have allowed employers to hire teenagers at 80% of the minimum wage. The architecture of the buildings and the nutritional content of the food also came under attack.
In the mid-1970’s Ray Kroc turned his energy from hamburgers to baseball, buying the San Diego Padres. He had less success at this, however, and in 1979 gave up operating control of the team. In the years before his death he and his second wife, Joan, set up foundations to aid alcoholics and established Ronald McDonald houses to help the families of children stricken with cancer.
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was born near Houston, Texas. There is some argument as to the exact date and location of his birth. His parents were Allene Stone Gano (a descendant of Owen Tudor, second husband of Catherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of England) and Howard R. Hughes, Sr., who patented the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places. Howard R. Hughes, Sr. made the decision to commercialize the invention, founding the Hughes Tool Company in 1909, in which be became quite successful.
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Showing great aptitude in engineering at an early age, Howard Hughes built Houston’s first radio transmitter when he was 11 years old. At 12, he was photographed in the local newspaper as being the first boy in Houston to have a “motorized” bicycle, which he had built himself from parts taken from his father’s steam engine. As a student he liked mathematics, flying, and mechanics, taking his first flying lesson at 14 and later auditing math and aeronautical engineering courses at California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Allene Hughes died in March 1922 from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. In January 1924, Howard Hughes Sr. died of a heart attack. Their deaths apparently inspired Howard Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in his will that he signed in 1925, at age 19. Because Howard Sr.’s will had not been updated since Allene’s death, he inherited 75% of the family fortune. On his 19th birthday, he was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his life and property. He dropped out of Rice University shortly after his father’s death. On June 1, 1925, he married Ella Botts Rice. They moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to make a name for himself making movies.
His first two films, Everybody’s Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928), were financial successes, the latter winning the first Academy Award for Best Director of a Comedy Picture. The Racket (1928) and The Front Page (1931) were also nominated for Academy Awards. He spent $3.8 million to make the flying film Hell’s Angels (1930). He produced another hit, Scarface (1932). The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell was released in 1943.
Howard Hughes’ wife returned to Houston in 1929 and filed for divorce. He dated many famous women, including Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn and Gene Tierney. He also proposed to Joan Fontaine. Bessie Love was a mistress during his first marriage. Jean Harlow accompanied him to the premiere of Hell’s Angels. He remained good friends with Gene Tierney. When her daughter Daria was born deaf and blind with severe mental retardation, due to Tierney being exposed to rubella during her pregnancy, Daria received the best medical care and he paid all the expenses.
On July 11, 1936, Howard Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel S. Meyer with his car. He was booked on suspicion of negligent homicide and held overnight in jail until his attorney obtained a writ of habeas corpus for his release pending a Coroner’s inquest. By the time of the coroner’s inquiry, however, the witness had changed his story and claimed that Meyer had moved directly in front of Howard Hughes’s car. Nancy Bayly (Watts), who was in the car with Hughes at the time of the accident, corroborates this version. On July 16, 1936, he was held blameless by a Coroner’s jury at the inquest into Meyer’s death.
Howard Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast, pilot and aircraft engineer. At Rogers Airport in Los Angeles, he learned to fly from pioneer aviators. He set many world records and designed and built several aircraft himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale. Operating from there, the most technologically important aircraft he designed was the Hughes H-1 Racer. On September 13, 1935, he, flying the H-1, set what was believed to be an airspeed record of 352 mph (566 km/h) near Santa Ana, California, although it is now recognized that Giuseppe Motta had reached 362 mph in 1929 and George Stainforth reached 407.5 mph in 1931. A year and a half later, on January 19, 1937, flying a redesigned H-1 Racer featuring extended wings, Howard Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds. His average speed over the flight was 322 mph (518 km/h). The H-1 Racer featured a number of design “innovations”: it had retractable landing gear and all rivets and joints set flush into the body of the aircraft to reduce drag. The H-1 Racer is thought to have influenced the design of a number of World War II fighters such as the Mitsubishi Zero, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the F8F Bearcat, although that has never been reliably confirmed. The H-1 Racer was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1975 and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum. On July 10, 1938, Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours. For this flight he did not fly an aircraft of his own design, but a Lockheed Super Electra (a twin-engine transport with a four-man crew) fitted with all of the latest radio and navigational equipment. He wanted the flight to be a triumph of technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible. He also had a hand in the design and financing of both the Boeing 307 Stratoliner and Lockheed L-049 Constellation. Howard Hughes received many awards as an aviator, including the Harmon Trophy in 1936 and 1938, the Collier Trophy in 1938, the Octave Chanute Award in 1940 and a special Congressional Gold Medal in 1939 “in recognition of the achievements of Howard Hughes in advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world.”
Howard Hughes was involved in a near-fatal aircraft accident on July 7, 1946, while piloting the experimental U.S. Army Air Force reconnaissance aircraft, the XF-11, over Los Angeles. When the XF-11 finally skidded to a halt after hitting three houses, the fuel tanks exploded, setting fire to the aircraft and a nearby home. He managed to pull himself out of the flaming wreckage but lay beside the aircraft until he was rescued. He received significant injuries in the crash, including a crushed collar bone, multiple cracked ribs, crushed chest with collapsed left lung, shifting his heart to the right side of the chest cavity, and numerous 3rd-degree burns. As he lay in his hospital bed, he decided that he did not like the design of the bed. He called in plant engineers to design a “tailor-made” bed, equipped with hot and cold running water, built in 6 sections, and operated by 30 electric motors, with push-button adjustments. Many attribute his long-term addiction to opiates to his use of morphine as a painkiller during his convalescence. The trademark mustache he wore afterward was meant to cover a scar on his upper lip resulting from the accident.
The Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”) was the world’s largest flying aircraft made from wood. At 319 feet 11 inches (97.51 m), it had the biggest wingspan of any aircraft ever built up to that date. The Hercules was originally contracted by the U.S. government for use during World War II to transport troops and equipment across the Atlantic as an alternative to sea-going troop transport ships that were vulnerable to German U-boats. However the aircraft was not completed until after the end of World War II. The Hercules flew only once for one mile (1.6 km), and 70 feet above the water, with Howard Hughes at the controls, on November 2, 1947. Howard Hughes was summoned to testify before the Senate War Investigating Committee to explain why the aircraft had not been delivered to the United States Army Air Forces during the war, but the committee disbanded without releasing a final report.
Hughes Aircraft Company, a division of Hughes Tool Company, was originally founded by Howard Hughes in 1932, in a rented corner of a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hangar in Burbank, California, to carry out the expensive conversion of a military aircraft into the H-1 racer. During and after World War II, Hughes fashioned his company into a major defense contractor. The Hughes Helicopters division started in 1947 when helicopter manufacturer Kellett sold their latest design to Howard Hughes for production. In 1948, he created a new division of the company, the Hughes Aerospace Group. The Hughes Space and Communications Group and the Hughes Space Systems Division were later spun off in 1948 to form their own divisions and ultimately became the Hughes Space and Communications Company in 1961. In 1953, Howard Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charitable organization. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion. In 1997, General Motors sold Hughes Aircraft to Raytheon and in 2000, sold Hughes Space & Communications to Boeing. A combination of Boeing, GM and Raytheon acquired the Hughes Research Laboratories.
In 1939, at the urging of Jack Frye, president of TWA, Howard Hughes quietly purchased a majority share of TWA stock for nearly $7 million and took control of the airline. Upon assuming ownership, he was prohibited by federal law from building his own aircraft. Seeking an aircraft that would perform better than TWA’s fleet of Boeing 307 Stratoliners, he approached Boeing’s competitor, Lockheed. He had a good relationship with Lockheed since they had built the aircraft he used in his record flight around the world in 1938. Lockheed agreed to his request that the new aircraft be built in secrecy. The result was the revolutionary Constellation and TWA purchased the first 40 of the new airliners off the production line. In 1956, Howard Hughes placed an order for 63 Convair 880s for TWA at a cost of $400 million. Although he was extremely wealthy at this time, outside creditors demanded that he relinquish control of TWA in return for providing the money. In 1960, he was ultimately forced out of TWA, although he owned 78% of the company and battled to regain control. In 1966, he was forced by a U.S. federal court to sell his shares in TWA because of concerns over conflict of interest between his ownership of both TWA and Hughes Aircraft. The sale of his TWA shares netted him a profit of $547 million. During the 1970’s, he went back into the airline business, buying the airline Air West and renaming it Hughes Airwest.
In 1948, Howard Hughes gained control of RKO, a struggling major Hollywood studio, by acquiring 25% of the outstanding stock from Floyd Odlum’s Atlas Corporation. Within weeks of taking control, he dismissed three-quarters of the work force and production was shut down for 6 months while he undertook the investigation of the politics of all remaining studio employees. Completed pictures would be sent back for re-shooting if he felt his star was not properly presented, or if a film’s anti-communist politics were not sufficiently clear. Howard Hughes sold the RKO theaters in 1953 as settlement of the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. antitrust case. With the sale of the profitable theaters, the shaky status of the film studio became increasingly apparent. A steady stream of lawsuits from RKO’s minority shareholders, charging him with financial misconduct and corporate mismanagement, became an increasing nuisance, especially because he wanted to focus on his aircraft-manufacturing and TWA holdings during the Korean War years. Eager to be rid of the distraction, he offered to buy out all other stockholders. By the end of 1954, at a cost of nearly $24 million, he had gained near total control of RKO, becoming the closest thing to a sole owner of a Hollywood studio seen in 3 decades. 6 months later, he sold the studio to the General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million. Howard Hughes retained the rights to pictures he had personally produced, including those made at RKO. He also retained Jane Russell’s contract. For Howard Hughes, this was the virtual end of his 25-year involvement in motion pictures. He reportedly walked away from RKO having made $6.5 million in personal profit. General Tire’s studio lots in Hollywood and Culver City were sold to Desilu Productions for $6.15 million in 1957.
In 1953, Howard Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, formed with the express goal of basic biomedical research, including trying to understand the “genesis of life itself.” His first will, which he signed in 1925 at the age of 19, stipulated that a portion of his estate should be used to create a medical institute bearing his name. He gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charity. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new board of trustees sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion, allowing the institute to grow dramatically. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was the 4th largest private organization as of 2007 and the largest devoted to biological and medical research, with an endowment of $16.3 billion as of June 2007.
On January 12, 1957, Howard Hughes married actress Jean Peters.
Shortly before the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon was harmed by revelations of a $205,000 loan from Howard Hughes to Nixon’s brother Donald. In late 1971, Donald Nixon was collecting intelligence for his brother in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. One of Donald’s sources was John H. Meier, a former business adviser of Howard Hughes who had also worked with Democratic National Chairman Larry O’Brien. However, Meier conspired with former Vice President of the United States, Hubert Humphrey, and others to feed disinformation to the Nixon campaign. Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the election because Larry O’Brien had a great deal of information on Richard Nixon’s illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that had never been released. Donald told his brother that O’Brien was in possession of damaging information that could destroy his campaign.
In 1972, Howard Hughes was approached by the CIA to help secretly recover Soviet submarine K-129 which had sunk near Hawaii 4 years earlier. Thus the Glomar Explorer, a special-purpose salvage vessel, was born. His involvement provided the CIA with a plausible cover story, having to do with civilian marine research at extreme depths and the mining of undersea manganese nodules. In the summer of 1974, Glomar Explorer attempted to raise the Soviet vessel. However, during the recovery a mechanical failure in the ship’s grapple caused half of the submarine to break off and fall to the ocean floor. This section is believed to have held many of the most sought-after items, including its code book and nuclear missiles. Two nuclear-tipped torpedoes and some cryptographic machines were recovered, along with the bodies of six Soviet submariners who were subsequently given formal burial at sea in a filmed ceremony. The operation, known as Project Azorian, became public in February 1975 because burglars had obtained secret documents from Howard Hughes’ headquarters in June 1974. Though he lent his name to the operation, Howard Hughes and his companies had no actual involvement in the project.
The wealthy and aging Howard Hughes, accompanied by his entourage of personal aides, began moving from one hotel to another, always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse. During the last 10 years of his life, from 1966 to 1976, he lived in hotels in Beverly Hills, Boston, Las Vegas, Nassau, Freeport, Xanadu Princess Hotel, Bayshore Inn Vancouver, London, Managua, Acapulco and others.
On November 24, 1966, Howard Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn. Because he refused to leave the hotel and to avoid further conflicts with the owners of the hotel, he bought the Desert Inn in early 1967. The hotel’s 8th floor became the operational center of his empire and the 9th-floor penthouse became his personal residence. Between 1966 and 1968, he bought several other hotels/casinos such as the Castaways, New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, the Sands and Silver Slipper casino. He wanted to change the image of Las Vegas to something more glamorous than it was. As he wrote in a memo to an aide, “I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car.” He bought several local television stations (including KLAS-TV).
In 1971, Jean Peters filed for divorce. Peters requested a lifetime alimony payment of $70,000 a year, adjusted for inflation, and waived all claims to Howard Hughes’ estate. Hughes offered her a settlement of over a million dollars, but she declined it.
Howard Hughes was reported to have died on April 5, 1976, at 1:27 PM on board an aircraft owned by Robert Graf, en route from his penthouse at the “Acapulco Fairmont Princess Hotel” in Mexico to The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. A subsequent autopsy noted kidney failure as the cause of death. He was in extremely poor physical condition at the time of his death. X-rays revealed broken-off hypodermic needles still embedded in his arms and severe malnutrition. While his kidneys were damaged, his other internal organs were deemed perfectly healthy.
Howard Hughes’ $2.5 billion estate was eventually split in 1983 among 22 cousins, including William Lummis who serves as a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hughes Aircraft was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5.2 billion. Suits brought by the states of California and Texas claiming they were owed inheritance tax were both rejected by the court. In 1984, his estate paid an undisclosed amount to Terry Moore, who claimed to have been secretly married to him on a yacht in international waters off Mexico in 1949 and never divorced.
Howard Hughes has now emerged as one of the 20th Century’s most iconic business and aviation figures spawning a wide range of cultural references.
Samuel Moore “Sam” Walton (March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992) was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. As a child, Sam Walton moved with his family to Missouri where he became an Eagle Scout at age 13, a student leader, basketball star and quarterback on a state championship football team at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1940 with a B.A. in Economics. During World War 2, he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps. While in the army, he married Helen Robson of Claremore, Oklahoma, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1943. Over the years, they had 4 children: Rob, Jim, John and Alice.
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Immediately following his military service, Sam Walton worked for JC Penney in Iowa and operated his own variety store in Newport, Arkansas. In 1951, he opened Walton’s Five and Dime in Bentonville, Arkansas. On July 2, 1962, he opened his first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas. He launched a determined effort to market American-made products. Included in the effort was a willingness to find American manufacturers who could supply merchandise for the entire WalMart chain at a price low enough to meet the foreign competition. The company’s early popularity exceeded his expectations, resulting in a rapid state-by-state store expansion financed largely through proceeds of a public stock offering in 1971. As part of his managing strategy, he made sure that information regarding the company’s objectives and results was not held closely by a few executives, but was shared among all the employees. Sam Walton was a role model and visionary. He introduced new technologies to retailing and encouraged employees to take risks. He experimented with different types of stores. Sam’s Club membership warehouses and Walmart Supercenters were two successful examples. When he thought the time was right, he expanded first into Mexico, and then into other countries. By late 1998, Walmart had stores on 4 continents and 9 countries.
Over his lifetime, Sam Walton was recognized for both his business success and his commitment to the community. He built this company with the purpose of saving people money so they can live better. This foresight contributed to him being named “America’s Most Successful Merchant” in the September 1991 cover story of Fortune magazine.
His commitment to philanthropy resulted in the creation of a foundation. That commitment has grown to domestic and international Walmart foundations giving more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts from February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009.
Shortly before his death on April 5, 1992, Sam Walton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush, the highest honor the country bestows on its private citizens. He also received the prestigious 1997 National Patriots Award for “exemplifying the ideals that make this country strong.” In 1998, he was included in Time’s list of 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Sam Walton was honored for all his pioneering efforts in retail in March 1992. Also that year, the Jiangsu province of the People’s Republic of China awarded him the Golden Star Foreigner’s Award for “tireless assistance in the development of People’s owned factories in the Suzhou area.
Mary Kay Ash (May 12, 1918 – November 22, 2001) was born Mary Kathlyn Wagner in Hot Wells, Texas. Her mother, who had studied to be a nurse, worked long hours managing a restaurant. When Mary Kay was two or three, her father was ill with tuberculosis. As a result, it was her responsibility to clean, cook, and care for her father while her mother was at work. She excelled in school, but her family could not afford to send her to college. She married at age seventeen and eventually had three children.
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During a time when few married women with families worked outside the home, Mary Kay Ash became an employee of Stanley Home Products in Houston, Texas. She conducted demonstration “parties” at which she sold company products, mostly to homemakers like herself. Energetic and a quick learner, Mary Kay Ash became a unit manager, a post she held from 1938 to 1952. She also spent a year studying at the University of Houston to follow her dream of becoming a doctor, but she gave it up and returned to sales work. After her marriage ended in 1952, she took a sales job at World Gift Company in Dallas, Texas. She began to develop her theory of marketing and sales, which included offering sales incentives to the customer as well as the sales force. She was intelligent and hardworking, but, unlike men, women were given hardly any opportunities for advancement at the time. Tired of being passed over for promotions in favor of the men she had trained, she quit. She planned to write a book about her experiences in the work force.
In 1963, with an investment of $5000 Mary Kay Ash founded her own company to sell a skin cream to which she had purchased the manufacturing rights. She named her company “Beauty by Mary Kay.” She was determined to offer career opportunities in her company to any woman who had the energy and creativity required to sell Mary Kay cosmetics. Before long she had a force of female sales representatives who were eager to prove themselves. Her second husband died in 1963, a month before her company was established. Her oldest son helped guide her through the start-up phase of her company. Three years later she married Melville J. Ash, who worked in the wholesale gift business. Believing it was important to reward hard workers, she gave away vacations, jewelry and pink Cadillacs to her top performers. With goals such as these to shoot for, her salespeople made the company a huge success. Within two years sales neared $1 million. The company’s growth continued and new products were added. Every year since 1992 Mary Kay Cosmetics made Fortune magazine’s list of 500 largest companies and was listed in a book entitled “The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” It now employs over 475 thousand people in over 25 countries.
Mary Kay Ash published her life story, Mary Kay, in 1981. It sold over a million copies, and she went on to write Mary Kay on People Management (1984) and Mary Kay—You Can Have It All (1995). In 1987 she became chairman emeritus of her company. She helped raise money for cancer research after her third husband died of the disease. In 1993 she was honored with the dedication of the Mary Kay Ash Center for Cancer Immunotherapy Research at St. Paul Medical Center in Dallas. In 1996 the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation was started to research cancers that mainly affect women. She was a tough businessperson with a thorough knowledge of marketing and sales. Through her belief in women’s abilities and her willingness to give them a chance, she made the dream of a successful career a reality for hundreds of thousands of women worldwide.
Civil Rights Movement
George Walton Lucas, Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film producer, screenwriter and director. He is best known for being the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie franchises. George Lucas was born in Modesto, California, the son of Dorothy and George Lucas, Sr. (1913–1991), who owned a stationery store.
Long before George Lucas became obsessed with film making, he wanted to be a race-car driver, and he spent most of his high school years racing on the underground circuit at fairgrounds and hanging out at garages. However, a near-fatal accident in his souped-up Autobianchi Bianchina on June 12, 1962, just days before his high school graduation, quickly changed his mind. Instead of racing, he attended Modesto Junior College and later got accepted into a junior college to study anthropology. While taking liberal arts courses, he developed a passion for cinematography and camera tricks. George Lucas graduated from Brookdale Community College in New Jersey.
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During this time, an experimental filmmaker named Bruce Baillie tacked up a bedsheet in his backyard in 1960 to screen the work of underground, avant-garde 16 mm filmmakers like Jordan Belson, Stan Brakhage and Bruce Conner. For the next few years, Baillie’s series, dubbed Canyon Cinema, toured local coffeehouses. These events became a magnet for the teenage George Lucas and his boyhood friend John Plummer. The 19-year-olds began slipping away to San Francisco to hang out in jazz clubs and find news of Canyon Cinema screenings in flyers at the City Lights bookstore. Already a promising photographer, George Lucas became infatuated with these abstract films.
George Lucas then transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. USC was one of the earliest universities to have a school devoted to motion picture film. During the years at USC, George Lucas shared a dorm room with Randal Kleiser. Along with classmates such as Walter Murch, Hal Barwood and John Milius, they became a clique of film students known as The Dirty Dozen. He also became very good friends with fellow acclaimed student filmmaker and future Indiana Jones collaborator, Steven Spielberg. George Lucas was deeply influenced by the Filmic Expression course taught at the school by filmmaker Lester Novros which concentrated on the non-narrative elements of Film Form like color, light, movement, space and time. Another huge inspiration was the Serbian montagist (and dean of the USC Film Department) Slavko Vorkapich, a film theoretician comparable in historical importance to Sergei Eisenstein, who moved to Hollywood to make stunning montage sequences for studio features at MGM, RKO and Paramount.
After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film in 1967, he tried joining the United States Air Force as an officer, but he was immediately turned down because of his numerous speeding tickets. He was later drafted by the Army for military service in Vietnam, but he was exempt from the draft after medical tests showed he had diabetes, the disease that killed his paternal grandfather.
In 1967, Lucas re-enrolled as a USC graduate student in film production. Working as a teaching instructor for a class of U.S. Navy students who were being taught documentary cinematography, George Lucas directed the short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which won first prize at the 1967–68 National Student Film Festival, and was later adapted into his first full-length feature film, THX 1138. George Lucas was awarded a student scholarship by Warner Brothers to observe and work on the making of a film of his choosing. The film he chose was Finian’s Rainbow (1968) which was being directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who at the time was revered among film school students of the time as a cinema graduate who had “made it” in Hollywood. In 1969, George Lucas was one of the camera operators on the classic Rolling Stones concert film Gimme Shelter.
George Lucas is a filmmaker, with a film career dominated by writing and production. Aside from the nine short films he made in the 1960s, he also directed six major features. His work from 1971 and 1977 as a writer-director, which established him as a major figure in Hollywood, consists of just three films: THX 1138, American Graffiti, and Star Wars. There was a 22-year hiatus between Star Wars Episode IV and his only other feature-film directing credits, the three Star Wars prequels.
George Lucas acted as a writer and executive producer on another successful Hollywood film franchise, the Indiana Jones series. In addition, his decision to establish his own effects company to make the original Star Wars film has produced enormous benefits; this company, the award-winning Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), is one of the world leaders in movie special effects.
George Lucas co-founded the studio American Zoetrope with Francis Ford Coppola — whom he met during his internship at Warner Brothers – hoping to create a liberating environment for filmmakers to direct outside the perceived oppressive control of the Hollywood studio system. His first full-length feature film produced by the studio, THX 1138, was not a success. George Lucas then created his own company, Lucasfilm, Ltd., and directed American Graffiti (1973). His new-found wealth and reputation enabled him to develop a story set in space. Even so, he encountered difficulties getting Star Wars made. It was only because Alan Ladd, Jr., at Fox Studios, liked American Graffiti that he forced through a production and distribution deal for the film, which ended up restoring Fox to financial stability after a number of flops.
Star Wars quickly became the highest-grossing film of all-time, displaced five years later by Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. During the filming of Star Wars, George Lucas waived his up-front fee as director and negotiated to own the merchandising and licensing rights. This decision earned him hundreds of millions of dollars, as he was able to directly profit from all the licensed games, toys and collectibles created for the franchise. This accumulated capital enabled him to finance the sequel himself.
Over the two decades after the first Star Wars film, Lucas worked extensively as a writer and/or producer, including the many Star Wars spinoffs made for film, TV, and other media. He acted as executive producer for the next two Star Wars films, assigning the direction of The Empire Strikes Back to Irvin Kershner and Return of the Jedi to Richard Marquand, while receiving a story credit on the former and sharing a screenwriting credit with Lawrence Kasdan on the latter. George Lucas also acted as executive producer and story writer on all four of the Indiana Jones films, which he convinced his colleague and good friend, Steven Spielberg, to direct. Other notable projects as a producer or executive producer in this period include Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (1980), Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat (1981), Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (1986), Godfrey Reggio’s Powaqqatsi (1986) and the animated film The Land Before Time (1988). There were also some other projects, including More American Graffiti (1979), Howard the Duck (1986), Willow (1988) and Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). Between 1992 and 1996, George Lucas served as executive producer for the television spinoff The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. In 1997, for the 20th anniversary of Star Wars, George Lucas went back to his trilogy to enhance and add certain scenes using newly available digital technology. These new versions were released in theaters as the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. For DVD releases in 2004, this series has received further revisions to make them congruent with the prequel trilogy. Besides the additions to the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas released Special Edition director’s cuts of THX 1138 and American Graffiti containing a number of CGI revisions.
The animation studio Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Pixar’s early computer graphics research resulted in groundbreaking effects in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, and the group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs shortly after he left Apple after a power struggle at Apple Computer. Steve Jobs paid $5 million to George Lucas and put $5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected George Lucas’ desire to stop the cash flow losses from his 7-year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company’s new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash-flow difficulties following George Lucas’ 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden dropoff in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi.
The sound-equipped system, THX Ltd, was founded by George Lucas and Tomlinson Holman. The company was formerly owned by Lucasfilm, and contains equipment for stereo, digital, and theatrical sound for movies, and music. Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic, the sound and visual effects subdivisions of Lucasfilm, respectively, have become among the most respected firms in their fields. Lucasfilm Games, later renamed LucasArts, is well respected in the gaming industry.
In 1994, George Lucas began work on the screenplay for the prequel The Phantom Menace, which would be the first film he had directed in over two decades. The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, beginning a new trilogy of Star Wars films. George Lucas also directed Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith which were released in 2002 and 2005, respectively.
In 2008, he reteamed with Steven Spielberg for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
In 1991, The George Lucas Educational Foundation was founded as a nonprofit operating foundation to celebrate and encourage innovation in schools. The Foundation’s content is available under the brand Edutopia, in an award-winning web site and via documentary films. George Lucas, through his foundation, was one of the leading proponents of the E-rate program in the universal service fund, which was enacted as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. On June 24, 2008, George Lucas testified before the United States House of Representatives subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet as the head of his Foundation to advocate for a free wireless broadband educational network.
The American Film Institute awarded George Lucas its Life Achievement Award on June 9, 2005. This was shortly after the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, about which he joked stating that, since he views the entire Star Wars series as one movie, he could actually receive the award now that he had finally “gone back and finished the movie.”
On June 5, 2005, George Lucas was named among the 100 “Greatest Americans” by the Discovery Channel.
George Lucas was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Directing and Writing for American Graffiti, and Best Directing and Writing for Star Wars. He received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1991. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007 with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola to present the Best Director award to their friend Martin Scorsese. During the speech, Spielberg and Coppola talked about the joy of winning an Oscar, making fun of George Lucas, who has not won a competitive Oscar.
In 2005, George Lucas gave $1 million to help build the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to commemorate American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
On September 19, 2006, USC announced that George Lucas had donated $175–180 million to his alma mater to expand the film school. It is the largest single donation to USC and the largest gift to a film school anywhere. Previous donations led to the already existing George Lucas Instructional Building and Marcia Lucas Post-Production building.
On January 1, 2007, George Lucas served as the Grand Marshal for the 2007 Tournament of Roses Parade, and made the coin toss at the 2007 Rose Bowl.
On August 25, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that George Lucas would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum’s yearlong exhibit. The induction ceremony was on December 1, 2009, in Sacramento, California.
On September 6, 2009, George Lucas was in Venice to present to the Pixar team the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement during the 2009 Biennale Venice Film Festival.
Oprah Winfrey (born Orpah Gail Winfrey on January 29, 1954) was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi to unmarried teenage parents. Her mother, Vernita Lee was a housemaid. She believed that her biological father was Vernon Winfrey, a coal miner turned barber turned city councilman who had been in the Armed Forces when she was born. She had her DNA tested. The genetic test determined that her maternal line originated among the Kpelle ethnic group, in the area that today is Liberia. Her genetic make up was determined to be 89% Sub-Saharan African. After her birth, her mother moved and she spent her first 6 years living in rural poverty with her grandmother. Her grandmother taught her to read before the age of 3 and took her to the local church. At 6, she moved to an inner-city neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother. Oprah Winfrey has stated that she was molested by her cousin, her uncle and a family friend, starting when she was 9 years old. When she was 14, she became pregnant, her son dying shortly after birth. Her mother sent her to live with Vernon Winfrey in Nashville, Tennessee. Vernon was strict, but encouraging and made her education a priority. Oprah Winfrey became an honors student, was voted Most Popular Girl, joined her high school speech team at East Nashville High School, placing second in the nation in dramatic interpretation. She won an oratory contest, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University where she studied communication. Her first job as a teenager was working at a local grocery store. At age 17, she won the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant. She got the attention of the local black radio station, WVOL, which hired her to do the news part-time. She worked there during her senior year of high school, and again while in her first two years of college.
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Working in local media, she was both the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor at Nashville’s WLAC-TV. She moved to Baltimore’s WJZ-TV in 1976 to co-anchor the 6pm news. She was then recruited to join Richard Sher as co-host of WJZ’s local talk show People Are Talking, which premiered on August 14, 1978. She also hosted the local version of Dialing for Dollars. In 1983, she moved to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s low-rated half-hour morning talk show, AM Chicago. The first episode aired on January 2, 1984. Within months after she took over, the show went from last place in the ratings to overtaking Donahue as the highest rated talk show in Chicago. The movie critic Roger Ebert persuaded her to sign a syndication deal with King World. It was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show, expanded to a full hour, and broadcast nationally beginning September 8, 1986. Her syndicated show brought in double Donahue’s national audience, displacing Donahue as the number one day-time talk show in America. In the mid 1990’s she adopted a less tabloid-oriented format, hosting shows on broader topics such as heart disease, geopolitics, spirituality and meditation and interviewing celebrities on social issues they were directly involved with, such as cancer, charity work, or substance abuse.
In 1985, Oprah Winfrey co-starred in Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple as distraught housewife, Sofia. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In addition, she produced and co-starred in the 1989 drama miniseries The Women of Brewster Place and Brewster Place. In October 1998, she produced and starred in the film Beloved, based on Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Oprah Winfrey co-founded the women’s cable television network Oxygen. She is also the president of Harpo Productions. On January 15, 2008, Winfrey and Discovery Communications announced plans to change Discovery Health Channel into a new channel called OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. In late 2008, Harpo Films signed an exclusive output pact to develop and produce scripted series, documentaries and movies for HBO. In 1993, she hosted a rare prime-time interview with Michael Jackson, which became the 4th most watched event in American television history as well as the most watched interview ever, with an audience of 36.5 million. On December 1, 2005, she appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman to promote the new Broadway musical The Color Purple, of which she was a producer. The episode helped Letterman attract his largest audience in more than 11 years: 13.45 million viewers. Oprah voiced Gussie the goose for Charlotte’s Web (2006) and the voice of Judge Bumbleden in Bee Movie (2007). In 2009, she provided the voice for the character of Eudora in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog and in 2010, narrated the US version of the BBC nature program Life for Discovery.
Oprah Winfrey has co-authored five books. She publishes 2 magazines: O, The Oprah Magazine and O at Home. In 2002 Fortune called O, the Oprah Magazine the most successful start-up ever in the industry. Her company created the Oprah.com website to provide resources and interactive content relating to her shows, magazines, book club, and public charity. Oprah.com averages more than 70 million page views and more than six million users per month, and receives approximately 20,000 e-mails each week. She initiated “Oprah’s Child Predator Watch List”, through her show and website, to help track down accused child molesters. Within the first 48 hours, two of the featured men were captured.
On February 9, 2006, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey had signed a three-year, $55 million contract with XM Satellite Radio to establish a new radio channel. The channel, Oprah Radio, features popular contributors to The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine including Nate Berkus, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bob Greene, Dr. Robin Smith and Marianne Williamson. Oprah & Friends began broadcasting at 11:00 am ET, September 25, 2006, from a new studio at her Chicago headquarters. At 41, she had a net worth of $340 million and replaced Bill Cosby as the only African American on the Forbes 400. With a 2000 net worth of $800 million, she is the wealthiest African American of the 20th century.
Oprah Winfrey has been called the world’s most powerful and influetial woman by CNN, Time, Life, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Ladies Home Journal, American Spectator and others. In 2010, Life magazine named Oprah Winfrey one of the 100 people who changed the world, along side such luminaries as Jesus Christ, Elvis Presley and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. She was the only living woman to make the list.
In 2005 Oprah Winfrey was named the greatest woman in American history as part of a public poll as part of The Greatest American. She was ranked #9 overall on the list of greatest Americans. The Wall Street Journal coined the term “Oprahfication”, meaning public confession as a form of therapy. The power of Oprah Winfrey’s opinions and endorsement to influence public opinion, especially consumer purchasing choices, has been dubbed “The Oprah Effect”. The effect has been documented or alleged in book sales, beef markets and election voting. She endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. This is the first time she publicly made such an endorsement. An analysis by two economists at the University of Maryland, College Park estimated that Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement was responsible for between 423,123 and 1,596,995 votes for Obama in the Democratic primary alone, based on a sample of states that did not include Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas, or Alaska. The results suggest that in the sampled states, her endorsement was responsible for the difference in the popular vote between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In 1998, Oprah Winfrey created the Oprah’s Angel Network, a charity that supported charitable projects and provided grants to nonprofit organizations around the world. Oprah’s Angel Network raised more than $80,000,000. She personally covered all administrative costs associated with the charity, so 100% of all funds raised went to charity programs. The charity stopped accepting donations in May 2010 and was later dissolved. Her show raises money through promotion of her public charity and she personally donates more of her own money to charity than any other show-business celebrity in America. In 2005 she became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America’s 50 most generous philanthropists, having given an estimated $303 million. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she created the Oprah Angel Network Katrina registry which raised more than $11 million for relief efforts. She personally gave $10 million to the cause. Homes were built in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama before the one year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She has also helped 250 African-American men continue or complete their education at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. She was the recipient of the first Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 2002 Emmy Awards for services to television and film. To celebrate two decades on national TV, and to thank her employees for their hard work, she took her staff and their families (1065 people in total) on vacation to Hawaii in the summer of 2006. She invested $40 million and some of her time establishing the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg, South Africa. The school opened in January 2007 with an enrollment of 152 pupils and features such amenities as a beauty salon and yoga studio. Nelson Mandela praised her for overcoming her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others and for investing in the future of South Africa. Winfrey teaches a class at the school via satellite.
Civil Rights Movement
Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was born in San Francisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. His biological parents – Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian Muslim graduate student who later became a political science professor, and Joanne Simpson, an American graduate student who went on to become a speech therapist – later married, giving birth to and raising his biological sister, the novelist Mona Simpson. He attended Cupertino Junior High School and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, and frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California. He was soon hired there and worked with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee.
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In 1972, he graduated from high school and enrolled in Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester, he continued auditing classes at Reed. In the autumn of 1974, he returned to California and began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with Wozniak. He took a job as a technician at Atari with the primary intent of saving money for a spiritual retreat to India. After his retreat to India, he was given the task of creating a circuit board for the game Breakout. Atari offered $100 for each chip that was eliminated in the machine. Steve Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the bonus evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50.
In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, with later funding from a then-semi-retired Intel product-marketing manager and engineer A.C. “Mike” Markkula Jr., founded Apple. As Apple continued to expand, the company began looking for an experienced executive to help manage its expansion.
In 1978, Apple recruited Mike Scott from National Semiconductor to serve as CEO. In 1983, Steve Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple’s CEO. The following year, Apple aired a Super Bowl television commercial titled “1984.” The Macintosh became the first commercially successful small computer with a graphical user interface.
While Steve Jobs was a persuasive and charismatic director for Apple, some of his employees from that time had described him as an erratic and temperamental manager. An industry-wide sales slump towards the end of 1984 caused a deterioration in Steve Jobs’s working relationship with Sculley, and at the end of May 1985 – following an internal power struggle and an announcement of significant layoffs – Sculley relieved Steve Jobs of his duties as head of the Macintosh division.
Around the same time, Steve Jobs founded another computer company, NeXT Computer. Like the Apple Lisa, the NeXT workstation was technologically advanced. Among those who could afford it, the NeXT workstation garnered a strong following because of its technical strengths, chief among them its object-oriented software development system. He marketed NeXT products to the scientific and academic fields because of the innovative, experimental new technologies it incorporated. He ran NeXT with an obsession for aesthetic perfection, as evidenced by such things as the NeXTcube’s magnesium case. This put considerable strain on NeXT’s hardware division, and in 1993, after having sold only 50,000 machines, NeXT transitioned fully to software development with the release of NeXTSTEP/Intel.
In 1986, Steve Jobs bought The Graphics Group (later renamed Pixar) from Lucasfilm’s computer graphics division for the price of $10 million. The new company was initially intended to be a high-end graphics hardware developer. After years of unprofitability selling the Pixar Image Computer, it contracted with Disney to produce a number of computer-animated feature films, which Disney would co-finance and distribute. The first film produced by the partnership, Toy Story, brought fame and critical acclaim to the studio when it was released in 1995. Over the next ten plus years, under Pixar’s creative chief John Lasseter, the company would produce the box-office hits A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up each received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, an award introduced in 2001. On January 24, 2006, Steve Jobs announced that Disney had agreed to purchase Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion. Once the deal closed, Steve Jobs became The Walt Disney Company’s largest single shareholder with approximately 7% of the company’s stock. He joined the company’s board of directors upon completion of the merger.
In 1996, Apple announced that it would buy NeXT for $429 million. The deal was finalized in late 1996, bringing Steve Jobs back to the company he co-founded. He soon became Apple’s interim CEO after the directors lost confidence in and ousted then-CEO Gil Amelio in a boardroom coup. In March 1998, to concentrate Apple’s efforts on returning to profitability, He immediately terminated a number of projects such as Newton, Cyberdog, and OpenDoc. He also changed the licensing program for Macintosh clones, making it too costly for the manufacturers to continue making machines. With the purchase of NeXT, much of the company’s technology found its way into Apple products, most notably NeXTSTEP, which evolved into Mac OS X. Under his guidance the company increased sales significantly with the introduction of the iMac and other new products.
In recent years, the company has branched out, introducing and improving upon other digital appliances. With the introduction of the iPod portable music player, iTunes digital music software and the iTunes Store, the company made forays into consumer electronics and music distribution. In 2007, Apple entered the cellular phone business with the introduction of the iPhone, which also included the features of an iPod and, with its own mobile browser, revolutionized the mobile browsing scene. While stimulating innovation, He reminds his employees that delivering working products on time is as important as innovation and attractive design.
As of October 2009, Steve Jobs owned 5.426 million shares of Apple, most of which was granted in 2003 when he was given 10 million shares. He also owned 138 million shares of Disney, which he received in exchange for Disney’s acquisition of Pixar. Forbes estimated his net wealth at $5.1 billion in 2009, making him the 43rd wealthiest American.
Steve Jobs has always aspired to position Apple and its products at the forefront of the information technology industry by foreseeing and setting trends, at least in innovation and style. His model for business is “The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts.” Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people.
Steve Jobs was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan in 1985 with Steve Wozniak, and a Jefferson Award for Public Service in the category “Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under”. On November 27, 2007, he was named the most powerful person in business by Fortune Magazine. On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver inducted him into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. In August 2009, he was selected the most admired entrepreneur among teenagers on a survey by Junior Achievement. On November 5, 2009, Jobs was named the CEO of the decade by Fortune Magazine. In November 2009 Jobs was ranked #57 on Forbes: The World’s Most Powerful People.
William Henry “Bill” Gates III (born October 28, 1955) was born in Seattle, Washington. His father was a prominent lawyer, his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way, and her father, J. W. Maxwell, was a national bank president. At 13 he enrolled in the Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school. When he was in the 8th grade, the Mothers Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School’s rummage sale to buy an ASR-33 teletype terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the school’s students. He took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC and was excused from math classes to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine: tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer. After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, he and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC), which banned 4 Lakeside students: Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Kent Evans after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time. At the end of the ban, the 4 students offered to find bugs in CCC’s software in exchange for computer time. Rather than use the system via teletype, Bill Gates went to CCC’s offices and studied source code for various programs that ran on the system, including programs in FORTRAN, LISP and machine language. The arrangement with CCC continued until 1970, when the company went out of business. The following year, Information Sciences, Inc. hired the 4 Lakeside students to write a payroll program in COBOL, providing them computer time and royalties. After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Bill Gates wrote the school’s computer program to schedule students in classes. He modified the code so that he was placed in classes with mostly female students. At age 17, he formed a venture with Allen, called Traf-O-Data, to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor. In early 1973, Bill Gates served as a congressional page in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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Bill Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT and enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973. He did not have a specific study plan while a student at Harvard and spent a lot of time using the school’s computers. He remained in contact with Paul Allen, joining him at Honeywell during the summer of 1974. The following year saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU, and Bill Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company. He had talked this decision over with his parents, who were supportive of him after seeing how much he wanted to start a company. After reading the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics that demonstrated the Altair 8800, Bill Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), the creators of the new microcomputer, to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. In reality, they did not have an Altair and had not written code for it. They just wanted to gauge MITS’s interest. MITS president Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demo, and over the course of a few weeks they developed an Altair emulator that ran on a minicomputer, and then the BASIC interpreter. The demonstration, held at MITS’s offices in Albuquerque, was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC. Paul Allen was hired into MITS, and Bill Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen at MITS in Albuquerque in November 1975. On November 26, 1976, the trade name “Microsoft” was registered with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico.
During Microsoft’s early years, all employees had broad responsibility for the company’s business. Bill Gates oversaw the business details, but continued to write code as well. In the first 5 years, he personally reviewed every line of code the company shipped, and often rewrote parts of it as he saw fit. In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to write the BASIC interpreter for its upcoming personal computer, the IBM PC. When IBM’s representatives mentioned that they needed an operating system, Gates referred them to Digital Research (DRI). IBM’s discussions with Digital Research went poorly, and they did not reach a licensing agreement. A few weeks later Bill Gates proposed using 86-DOS (QDOS), an operating system similar to CP/M that Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products (SCP) had made for hardware similar to the PC. Microsoft made a deal with SCP to become the exclusive licensing agent, and later the full owner, of 86-DOS. After adapting the operating system for the PC, Microsoft delivered it to IBM as PC-DOS in exchange for a one-time fee of $50,000. Bill Gates did not offer to transfer the copyright on the operating system, because he believed that other hardware vendors would clone IBM’s system. They did, and the sales of MS-DOS made Microsoft a major player in the industry. Bill Gates oversaw Microsoft’s company restructuring on June 25, 1981, which re-incorporated the company in Washington state and made him President of Microsoft and the Chairman of the Board.
Microsoft launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows on November 20, 1985. From Microsoft’s founding in 1975 until 2006, Bill Gates had primary responsibility for the company’s product strategy. He aggressively broadened the company’s range of products, and wherever Microsoft achieved a dominant position he vigorously defended it. Many decisions that led to antitrust litigation over Microsoft’s business practices have had his approval. Despite his denials, the judge ruled that Microsoft had committed monopolization and tying, and blocking competition, both in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Since leaving Microsoft, Bill Gates continues his philanthropy and, among other projects, purchased the videos rights to the Messenger Lectures series titled The Character of Physical Law, given at Cornell University by Richard Feynman in 1964 and recorded by the BBC. The videos are available online to the public at Microsoft’s Project Tuva. In April 2010, Gates was invited to visit and speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he asked the students to take on the hard problems of the world in their futures. Bill Gates was number one on the “Forbes 400″ list from 1993 through to 2007 and number one on Forbes list of “The World’s Richest People” from 1995 to 2007 and 2009. In 1999, his wealth briefly surpassed $101 billion, causing the media to call him a “centibillionaire”. Since 2000, the nominal value of his Microsoft holdings has declined due to a fall in Microsoft’s stock price after the dot-com bubble burst and the multi-billion dollar donations he has made to his charitable foundations. He has several investments outside Microsoft, which in 2006 paid him a salary of $616,667, and $350,000 bonus totalling $966,667. He founded Corbis, a digital imaging company, in 1989. In 2004 he became a director of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company headed by long-time friend Warren Buffett. He studied the work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and in 1994 sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation. In 2000, he and his wife combined three family foundations into one to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world. The foundation is set up to allow benefactors access to how its money is being spent, unlike other major charitable organizations such as the Wellcome Trust. The generosity and extensive philanthropy of David Rockefeller has been credited as a major influence. He and his father have met with Rockefeller several times and have modeled their giving in part on the Rockefeller family’s philanthropic focus, namely those global problems that are ignored by governments and other organizations. As of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were the second most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity.
Time magazine named Bill Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Time also collectively named Gates, his wife Melinda and U2’s lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year for their humanitarian efforts. In 2006, he was voted 8th in the list of “Heroes of our time”. In 1994, he was honoured as the 20th Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society. He received honorary doctorates from Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Breukelen, The Netherlands, in 2000; the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, in 2002; Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, in 2005; Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in April 2007; Harvard University in June 2007; the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, in January 2008, and Cambridge University in June 2009. He was also made an honorary trustee of Peking University in 2007. He was also made an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 2005, in addition to having entomologists name the Bill Gates flower fly, Eristalis gatesi, in his honor. In November 2006, he and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle for their philanthropic work around the world in the areas of health and education, particularly in Mexico. In October 2009, it was announced that Gates will be awarded the 2010 Bower Award for Business Leadership of The Franklin Institute for his achievements in business and for his philanthropic work. In 2010 he was honored with the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America, its highest award for adults, for his service to youth.
Lawrence “Larry” Page (born March 26, 1973) was born in East Lansing, Michigan. Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (Russian: Серге́й Миха́йлович Брин; born August 21, 1973) was born in Moscow, Russia. Larry Page’s father was a professor of computer science at Michigan State University and an early pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. He eventually entered the University of Michigan, where he earned an undergraduate degree in engineering with a concentration in computer engineering. An innovative thinker with a sense of humor, he once built a working ink-jet printer out of Lego blocks. He was eager to advance in his career, and decided to study for a Ph.D degree. He was admitted to the doctoral program in computer science at Stanford University. On an introductory weekend at the Palo Alto campus that had been arranged for new students, he met Sergey Brin. A native of Moscow, Russia, Sergey Brin was also the son of a professor, and came to the United States with his family when he was 6. His father taught math at the University of Maryland, and it was from that school’s College Park campus that Sergey Brin earned an undergraduate degree in computer science and math.
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Larry Page and Sergey Brin created an algorithm, or set of step-by-step instructions for solving a specific computer task. Their algorithm searched all the hypertext documents in cyberspace. A typical search engine such as Hot Bot, which was popular at one time in the mid-1990’s, worked by looking for a term the user entered. If a certain phrase was written into a web site several dozen or even a hundred times, that document would come up first in the search results. But it might just turn out to be an Internet store that sold memorabilia.
They wanted to create a search tool that would find the most relevant Web page first. If someone typed in “New York Yankees,” for example, the official Yankees site would be the first result returned. Their algorithm analyzed the “back links” in a hypertext document, or how many times other sites linked to it — the more links, the higher the relevancy of the page. As an article in Time explained, their search technology was the first to “treat the Internet as a democracy. Google interprets connections between websites as votes. The most linked-to sites win on the Google usefulness ballot and rise to the top of the search results.” The search engine with their unique algorithm was initially named “Backrub,” but they later settled on “PageRank,” named after Larry Page. It soon caught on with other Stanford users when they let them try it out. The two set up a simple search page for users, because they did not have a web page developer to create anything very impressive. They also began stringing together the necessary computing power to handle searches by multiple users, by using any computer part they could find. As their search engine grew in popularity among Stanford users, it needed more and more servers to process the queries.
During this time they were running the project out of their dorm rooms at Stanford. Larry Page’s room served as the data hub, while Sergey Brin’s was the business office. They had the idea to license their PageRank technology to other companies to pay off their debts, but none were interested. David Filo (1966–), another Stanford graduate who had started Yahoo.com, suggested they form a search-engine company. They named their company “Google,” after the mathematical term Googol, which specified the number one followed by a hundred zeros. They took it to Andy Bechtolsheim (1956–), a Stanford graduate and co-founder of Sun Microsystems. He liked their idea and wrote them a check for $100,000. They went on to raise more money from friends, family, and then from venture capital firms that funded new businesses. By the end of 1999 they had set up headquarters in an office park in Mountain View, and had officially launched the site.
In their first years in business, Brin served as president, while Page was the chief executive officer. The company continued to grow exponentially during 2001. They hired Eric Schmidt as chief executive officer and board chair in 2001. Schmidt was a veteran of Sun Microsystems, where he had served as chief technology officer.
Google kept expanding. It added search capabilities in dozens of languages, and began partnering with overseas sites as well. Its headquarters were informally known as the “Googleplex,” and workers were relatively free to make their own hours, with the idea that employees should be able to work when they felt they were most productive. Google staff were also encouraged to use 80% of their work hours on regular work, and the other 20% on projects of their own design.
By early 2004 Google was one of the most-visited Web sites in the world. Its servers handled some 138,000 search queries per minute, or about 200,000,000 daily. Analysts believed it was taking in approximately $1 billion in revenues annually, and the company announced plans to become a publicly traded company with an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. Theirs, however, would utilize a unique online auction process to sell its first shares to the public. This meant that the large Wall Street firms that handled the IPO underwriting would not be able to give the first shares out to their top clients as a perk. It was estimated that Google was going to be valued at least at $15 billion, and possibly even as high as $30 billion. Larry Page and Sergey Brin each own 38 million shares of Google stock. They would become overnight millionaires when Google began trading on the NASDAQ in 2004.
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg (May 14, 1984 – ) was born in White Plains, New York to Karen, a psychiatrist, and Edward, a dentist. He started programming when he was in middle school. His father taught him Atari BASIC Programming in the 1990’s, and then software developer David Newman was hired as his tutor in about 1995. He also took a graduate course in the subject at Mercy College near his home in the mid-1990’s. He developed computer programs, especially communication tools and games. He also designed and programmed a computer application system to help the workers in his father’s office communicate. At Ardsley High School he had excelled in the classics before in his junior year transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy, where he won prizes in science and Classical studies (in which he was fluent in French, Hebrew, Latin and ancient Greek). While in high school, under the company name Intelligent Media Group, he built a music player named the Synapse Media Player that used artificial intelligence to learn the user’s listening habits, which was posted to Slashdot and received a rating of 3 out of 5 from PC Magazine. Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase Synapse and recruit Mark Zuckerberg, but he instead went to Harvard College in September 2002 where he studied computer science and psychology and joined Alpha Epsilon Pi. At a fraternity party during his sophomore year, Zuckerberg met Priscilla Chan, who subsequently became his girlfriend. As of September 2010, he was studying Mandarin with a tutor in preparation for the couple’s slated visit to China and possibly to help in setting up operations in China, since Facebook, like Twitter, is blocked by that country’s internet firewall.
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Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory room on February 4, 2004. Facebook started off as just a “Harvard thing” until he decided to spread it to other schools, enlisting the help of roommate Dustin Moskovitz. They first started it at Stanford, Dartmouth, Columbia, New York University, Cornell, Brown and Yale, and then at other schools that had social contacts with Harvard. He moved to Palo Alto, California, with Moskovitz and some friends. They leased a small house that served as an office. Over the summer, he met Peter Thiel who invested in the company. They got their first office in mid-2004. They had turned down offers by major corporations to buy out Facebook. On July 21, 2010, Mark Zuckerberg reported that the company reached the 500 million-user mark.
A month after Facebook launched in February 2004, i2hub, another campus-only service, created by Wayne Chang, was launched. i2hub focused on peer-to-peer file sharing. At the time, both i2hub and Facebook were gaining the attention of the press and growing rapidly in users and publicity. In August 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew McCollum, Adam D’Angelo, and Sean Parker launched a competing peer-to-peer file sharing service called Wirehog. It was a precursor to Facebook Platform applications. Traction was low compared to i2hub, and Facebook ultimately shut Wirehog down the following summer.
On May 24, 2007, Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Platform, a development platform for programmers to create social applications within Facebook. Within weeks, many applications had been built and some already had millions of users. It grew to more than 800,000 developers around the world building applications for Facebook Platform. On July 23, 2008, he announced Facebook Connect, a version of Facebook Platform for users. On November 6, 2007, he announced a new social advertising system called Beacon, which enabled people to share information with their Facebook friends based on their browsing activities on other sites. The program came under scrutiny because of privacy concerns from groups and individual users. Zuckerberg and Facebook failed to respond to the concerns quickly, and on December 5, 2007, Zuckerberg wrote a blog post on Facebook taking responsibility for the concerns about Beacon and offering an easier way for users to opt out of the service.
In June 2010, Deputy Attorney General Muhammad Azhar Sidiqque of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan launched a criminal investigation into Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes after a “Draw Muhammad” contest was hosted on Facebook. The investigation also named the anonymous German woman who created the contest. Sidiqque asked the country’s police to contact Interpol to have Mark Zuckerberg and the 3 others arrested for blasphemy. On May 19, 2010, Facebook’s website was temporarily blocked in Pakistan until Facebook removed the contest from its website at the end of May. Sidiqque also asked its United Nations representative to raise the issue with the United Nations General Assembly. No formal charges have been filed against Mark Zuckerberg.
Vanity Fair magazine named Mark Zuckerberg number 1 on its 2010 list of the Top 100 “most influential people of the Information Age”. He ranked number 23 on the Vanity Fair 100 list in 2009. In 2010, he was chosen as number 16 in New Statesman’s annual survey of the world’s 50 most influential figures.