The most famous company founded the year you were born
Well-known firms with impressive staying power
Making a business work over the long term is a major challenge. Research shows the majority of start-ups fail within five years and the firms that do survive can struggle to make a profit. But these long-lasting enterprises have had no such problems. Discover the most famous business founded the year you were born.
1945: Minute Maid
Minute Maid was created in 1945 to shift a stockpile of powdered orange juice that had been produced for the war effort. Buoyed on by a promotional campaign fronted by Bing Crosby, the line of drinks fast became a household name, and Minute Maid, which was acquired by Coca-Cola in 1960, is now the world's largest marketer of fruit juice and drinks.
Rising from the ruins of postwar Japan, the Sony Corporation was founded in 1946 when Masaru Ibuka opened an electronics concession in a Tokyo department store. The company, which has become renowned for its electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services, started out selling rice cookers and wasn't known as Sony until 1958.
Company patriarch Erling Persson opened the first 'Hennes' store in 1947 in the Swedish city of Västerås, and added the 'Mauritz' moniker in 1968, when he bought hunting apparel retailer Mauritz Widforss. One of the world's leading fast-fashion retailers, the H&M family of brands currently boasts 4,500 stores in 62 countries around the world.
The human resources giant was founded in 1948 in Milwaukee by a pair of lawyers, Elmer Winter and Aaron Scheinfeld, who had trouble recruiting temporary secretaries and thought they could make a little extra cash providing temp services to businesses in the city. The enterprise soon took off and today ManpowerGroup has 3,900 offices worldwide.
1949: 20th Century Fox Television
TV was in its infancy when 20th Century Fox branched out into the medium in 1948. Over the years, the company, which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, has produced some of America's most popular and enduring shows, from The Simpsons and M*A*S*H to The X-Files, Glee and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
1950: Diner's Club
In 1949, company founder Frank McNamara was dining with clients in New York and realised he'd left his money at home. Unable to pay the bill, McNamara vowed to create a card that could be charged in lieu of cash. His Diner's Club card, which has been credited with popularising credit cards and changing the way we buy things, was launched the following year.
1951: Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments is one the world's leading manufacturers of semiconductors, but the Dallas-based firm is better known for its consumer electronics, which include the iconic 1980s educational toy Speak & Spell. The company, which is also famous for building the world's first transistor radio, was founded in 1951 following a re-organisation of seismic and defence electronics firm Geophysical Service.
The first company on the planet to make wheeled suitcases and bags, classic luggage firm Eastpak came into being in Boston in 1952 when retailer Monte Goldman established Eastern Canvas Products USA Inc. The company started out making bags and packs for the US military and was renamed Eastpak when it moved into the consumer market in 1976.
1953: Epic Records
Epic Records was set up in 1953 to market jazz and classical music that was deemed too niche for parent label Columbia Records. Epic, which is now owned by Sony, went on to embrace a variety of genres over the years and has signed a host of legendary artists, including Michael Jackson, ABBA and George Michael.
1954: Burger King
The flame-grill burger chain was founded in 1954 when fast food franchisees David Edgerton and James McLamore bought the struggling InstaBurger King restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida. Now a subsidiary of Canadian firm Restaurant Brands International, Burger King counts a total of 5,738 outlets in 100 countries worldwide.
Burger King's arch rival officially came into being on April 15 1955. While the business actually began in 1940 when the first McDonald's restaurant opened in San Bernardino, California, the corporation dates its founding to the opening of the first franchised McDonald's outlet in 1955 by Ray Kroc, who went on to oversee the company's global expansion.
The French cookware and appliance company was founded in Sarcelles near Paris in 1956 by two engineers, Marc Grégoire and Louis Hartmann, who chose the name Tefal, an amalgamation of Teflon and aluminium. The company, which is known worldwide, pioneered non-stick cookware and brought the world the cordless iron.
1957: McCain Foods
The world's largest producer of frozen French fries, McCain is a household name in hundreds of countries around the world. The Canadian firm started life in 1957 in Florenceville, New Brunswick when the McCain brothers – Harrison, Andrew, Robert and Wallace – began to freeze the potatoes produced by the family company.
Diner's Club may have created the world's first credit card, but Visa is the most popular credit card company these days, processing over a hundred billion transactions a year. The planet's leading credit card was launched in September 1958 as the BankAmericard, and became known as Visa in 1976.
A favourite of 1970s skiers and the 'casuals' of the 1980s, this world-famous sportswear brand was founded in 1959 in the Italian city of Perugia by entrepreneur Leonardo Servadio, who based the name of the company on his initials, L S. The business is now owned by the UK's Pentland Group.
1960: Domino's Pizza
The world's second-largest pizza chain traces its history back to 1960, when brothers Tom and James Monaghan bought the DomiNick's pizza parlour in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The siblings changed the chain's name to Domino's in 1965 and oversaw the company's global expansion, pioneering home pizza delivery. As of September 2017, Domino's has 13,811 outlets in 75 countries.
If you're sporting a pair of designer spectacles or sunglasses, chances are they are made by Luxottica. The largest eyewear company in the world, which was established in 1961 in the Italian town of Agordo by businessman Leonardo Del Vecchio, now owns several top brands including Ray-Ban. The firm also produces eyewear under licence for the likes of Prada, Chanel and Burberry.
Retailer Sam Walton opened his first Walmart Discount Store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas, and the rest is history. The world's largest company by revenue, Walmart turned over a staggering $480 billion (£364bn) in 2016. The company is also the planet's number one private employer, with a total of 2.3 million staff around the world.
The biggest broadcasting and cable TV company in the world came about in 1963 when Ralph J. Roberts and his partners Daniel Aaron and Julian A. Brodsky acquired small-time cable operator American Cable. The trio steered their company towards massive company growth and the firm, which now operates channels including NBC, E! and The Weather Channel, went public in 1972.
Nike has its origins in Blue Ribbon Sports, the company set up in 1964 by track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman to distribute Onitsuka Tiger running shoes. In 1971, the firm changed its name to Nike after the Greek goddess of victory, and started making its own sneakers emblazoned with the famous 'swoosh'. Today, Nike is the world's largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel.
1965: Dolby Laboratories
The company that revolutionised cinema sound and consumer audio devices was founded in London in May 1965 by American engineer Ray Dolby. The firm decamped to the States and set up in San Francisco in 1967, and began selling its audio technologies to the movie industry. As of January 2017, Dolby Laboratories has an annual turnover of $1.03 billion (£781m).
Eager to steal a chunk of the market dominated by the BankAmericard, which would later become Visa, a consortium of California banks teamed up in 1966 to create the precursor to MasterCard, which was called 'Master Charge: The Interbank Card'. MasterCard is now the second most-popular credit card company in the world after Visa, with a total of 191 million cardholders worldwide.
1967: Southwest Airlines
The world's biggest low-cost airline was founded in 1967 by entrepreneurs Rollin King and Herb Kelleher, who restricted the airline's operations within the state of Texas to avoid adhering to federal price controls and undercut the competitors. This cost-cutting ethos has enabled Southwest to expand considerably over the years. By 2014, it carried the most domestic passengers of any American airline.
Intel was created in 1968 by Gordon E. Moore, the author of Moore's law, and Robert Noyce, a physicist who co-invented the integrated circuit. The company started out making semiconductors, later moving into computer microprocessors. Today, Intel processors feature in the majority of PCs on the planet.
1969: The Gap
Husband and wife entrepreneurial team Donald and Doris Fisher opened the first Gap store in 1969 on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco. The store began by selling Levi's jeans and vinyl records, and started producing its own clothing line in 1974. By the 1990s, The Gap was one of the most popular clothing brands in the world. Today the company turns over $15.52 billion (£11.77bn) a year.
1970: Urban Outfitters
Whereas The Gap was the retailer of choice for young people in the 1990s, Urban Outfitters was number one for hipster youth in the 2000s. The 'counterculture' company was established by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks, and Scott Belair in Philadelphia back in 1970 but didn't reach global household name status until the 21st century. Urban Outfitters now boasts more than 400 outlets worldwide.
Starbucks coffeehouses are ubiquitous these days, but the firm had very humble beginnings. The first Starbucks was opened by University of San Francisco grads Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl in 1971 in Seattle, and just sold coffee beans. Fast forward to 2017 and Starbucks has 24,464 outlets worldwide generating an annual turnover of $21.32 billion (£16.17bn).
The trailblazing gaming firm that brought the world the classic Pong game and Atari 2600 console was founded in California in 1972 by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushell, who went on to establish the Chuck E. Cheese's chain of restaurants. The company, which was split following the video game crash of 1983, is now owned by Infogames.
One of the first companies to market sustainable clothing, outdoor apparel firm Patagonia was established in 1973 by American rock climber and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard. The business, which turns over $209.9 million (£159m) annually, is fiercely proud of its eco credentials and considers itself an 'activist company'.
Retailer Amancio Ortega opened the first Zara store in 1974 in A Coruña in northwest Spain, calling it Zorba after 'Zorba the Greek', before changing the name to Zara. The company, which is renowned for producing fast-fashion lookalikes of designer clothing, now has a total of 2,169 stores worldwide and annual revenues of $15.9 billion (£12.1bn).
The world's leading software company was founded by childhood buddies Bill Gates and Paul Allen back in April 1974 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. By the mid-1980s, Microsoft was the major player in the PC operating system market. Today the firm turns over $85.32 billion (£64.69bn) a year, making it one of the most valuable businesses on the planet.
Almost a year to the day after Microsoft was founded, Apple was established by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The company was a success from the get-go, going public as early as 1980, and its product range, which includes the iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch, has helped make Apple the world's most moneyed enterprise.
1977: Victoria's Secret
America's premier lingerie company, which is famous for its extravagant fashion shows and Angel supermodels, came into being in June 1977 when founders Roy and Gaye Raymond opened their first store in a shopping mall in Palo Alto, California. The company now has thousands of stores worldwide and turns over billions of dollars a year.
Italy's flashiest fashion house was established in 1978 when company founder Gianni Versace opened his first store on Milan's Via della Spiga. The brand exploded in the mid-1990s after actress Elizabeth Hurley was photographed wearing the label's iconic safety pin dress, and nowadays the company has 1,500 boutiques worldwide and an annual revenue of $709.5 million (£538m).
The world's first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles started out in October 1979 producing games for the Atari 2600. The firm weathered the video game crash of 1983 and has survived through thick and thin. Activision is still one of the largest third party video games publishers in the world.
1980: Whole Foods Market
Organic food was the preserve of die-hard hippies when Whole Foods opened its first store in 1980 in Austin, Texas. During the 1980s, the firm established itself as America's largest retailer of organic food, and can be credited with bringing natural, organic foods into the mainstream. These days, Whole Foods Market, which is in the process of being acquired by Amazon, has hundred of stores worldwide.
The leading financial software, data, and media company was founded in 1981 in New York by Michael Bloomberg, who used the cash he'd garnered from the sale of Salomon Brothers to fund the business. A resounding success, the firm now has 192 offices worldwide, turning over billions of dollars a year.
1982: Adobe Systems
Adobe Systems was established in December 1982 in a Mountain View, California garage by two former Xerox PARC employees, Charles Geschke and John Warnock, who started out marketing PostScript page description language. PostScript was picked up by Apple in 1985, and Adobe launched Photoshop, its most famous product, four years later.
AOL traces it roots back to 1983 when entrepreneur William von Meister (pictured) founded Control Video Corporation, an online service for Atari. In 1989, the firm changed its name to America Online and went on to pioneer the use of the internet in American homes during the 1990s, before it lost the bulk of its market share as result of the switch from dial-up to broadband.
In February 1984, Michael Dell, who was just 19 at the time, founded his eponymous computer hardware company in Austin, Texas, using a $1,000 investment courtesy of his parents. The firm produced its first PC in 1985 and hasn't looked back. Today, Dell has a total of 101,800 employees and turns over $50.9 billion (£38.6bn) a year.
The largest alternative investment company on the planet, Blackstone was set up in 1985 by parters Stephen A. Schwarzman and Peter G. Peterson, along with Richard Bennett, using $400,000 in seed capital. The New York-based firm was one of the first private equity companies to go public and now has total assets exceeding $31.5 billion (£23.9bn).
1986: Five Guys
The gourmet burger chain was founded in 1986 by a group of 'five guys' in Arlington County, Virginia, but didn't take off until 2003, when the firm began franchising its business model. The company, which was America's fastest-growing fast food chain during the 2000s, now has over 1,000 locations worldwide.
Chinese networking and telecoms giant Huawei was founded in 1987 in the city of Shenzhen by Ren Zhengfei (pictured), who cut his teeth as an engineer in the People's Liberation Army. The company expanded internationally in the late 1990s, and today Huawei is the largest telecoms equipment manufacturer in the world with a turnover of $75.1 billion (£56.9bn).
SanDisk was founded in California in 1988 by Jack Yuan, Eli Harari and Sanjay Mehrotra. The company, which was bought last year by competitor Western Digital for a cool $19 billion (£14.4bn), pioneered the use of semiconductor-based data storage and is one of the world's leading manufacturers of flash memory, which retains data without a power supply.
The GPS company was established in 1989 by engineers Gary Burrell and Min Kao in Lenexa, Kansas, and started out supplying GPS devices to the US military, eventually cornering the consumer market in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Today, Garmin has more than 10,000 employees and turns over billions of dollars a year.
1990: Time Warner
The world's third-largest entertainment company was created in January 1990 following the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications. The firm, which owns HBO, Warner Bros. and more, is currently being eyed-up by AT&T, which announced its intent to buy Time Warner for $108.7 billion (£82.4bn) last October.
British mobile telecoms firm Vodafone came into being in 1991 following the demerger of Racal Electronics. During the 1990s, Vodafone established itself as one the planet's leading mobile phone companies, expanding to a number of countries worldwide. Nowadays, the firm operates in 26 countries and turns over $47.63 billion (£36.1bn) a year.
Storage and data management company NetApp was established in 1992 by James Lau, David Hitz and Michael Malcolm. The firm managed to survive the dot.com bubble of the late 1990s and early 2000s and has flourished ever since. Today, NetApp turns over $5.54 billion (£4.19bn) a year, and has 10,700 employees.
The tech company, which is renowned for manufacturing top-quality graphic processing units, was founded in April 1993 by microprocessor designer Jensen Huang, and engineers Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem, with funding provided by Sequoia Capital. These days, Nvidia, which is branching out into artificial intelligence, has annual revenues of $6.9 billion (£5.2bn).
Desperate to get involved in the internet business boom of the 1990s, Jeff Bezos set up online retailer Cadabra in 1994, changing its name to Amazon.com not long after. The retailer, which started out just selling books, is now the world's largest internet company and turns over a mind-boggling $135.98 billion (£102.96bn) a year.
The world's leading online marketplace was founded in 1995 as the AuctionWeb by California-based entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar (pictured). The business experienced phenomenal growth during the 1990s and became known as eBay from 1997. Last year, eBay turned over $8.97 billion (£6.79bn) and had 12,600 staff in its employ.
1996: Alexa Internet
Alexa is the best-known web traffic and analytics company in the world. The firm was established in San Francisco in April 1996 by entrepreneurs Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat, who named their business after the Library of Alexandria in Ancient Egypt, and lucked out big-time in 1999 when Amazon bought their business for $250 million (£189m) in stock.
Back in 1997, most people were still renting movies from Blockbuster and similar video and DVD rental stores when Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph founded Netflix in the August of that year. Neflix pioneered DVD rental by mail before it moved into streaming media. Nowadays, the company, which has expanded into movie and TV production, has annual revenues of $8.83 billion (£6.69bn).
The search engine colossus was established in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were PhD students at California's Stanford University, with funding provided by several investors including Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Stanford University professor David Cheriton. The firm, which didn't waste any time dominating the search engine market, now has a brand value of $245 billion (£185.5bn).
China's answer to eBay and Amazon, Alibaba was founded by Jack Ma (pictured standing) in 1999 in his apartment in Hangzhou as a business-to-business portal hooking up Chinese manufacturers with buyers in the west. Now the world's third-largest retailer, Alibaba enjoyed spectacular growth in the 2000s and 2010s, and currently has annual revenues of $24.3 billion (£18.4bn).
Google may dominate the search engine market in the western world, but Baidu is number one in China. The firm, which was launched in a Beijing hotel room in 2000 by internet entrepreneurs Robin Li and Eric Xu, is now the second-largest search engine on the planet with an annual turnover of $10.8 billion (£8.2bn).
The web discovery engine was founded 16 years ago by college grads Garrett Camp (pictured), Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance and Eric Boyd. The engine was purchased by eBay in 2007 for $75 million (£56.8m), and bought back by Camp and Smith in 2009. The firm, which has been struggling of late, was purchased in its entirety by Camp in 2015.