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The Basics of Business History: Top 100 Events in Chronological Order

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Do you remember where you were when ADM became the world's largest linseed-oil maker? Figure it out here with our top 100 U.S. business events of the century listed by date, from 1901 to 1996.


1901: Morgan consolidates U.S. Steel (58)

1906: The Jungle is published (42)

1907: U.S. immigration peaks (44)

1909: Bakelite is introduced (17)


1910: Frederick Taylor's 'scientific management' theory gains legitimacy (94)

Jan. 10, 1910: Hallmark gets its start (100)

May 15, 1911: The Supreme Court orders the breakup of Standard Oil (36)

1913: The Federal Reserve is formed (3)

1913: Ford introduces the assembly line (6)

1914: Thomas Watson becomes president of IBM's predecessor (88)

Aug. 15, 1914: The Panama Canal opens (86)

1915: Carrier Engineering is founded, beginning the commercialization of air conditioning (10)


1922: New York's WEAF broadcasts the first radio ad (35)

1923: ADM becomes the world's largest linseed -oil maker (55)

1923: Alfred Sloan becomes president of General Motors (66)

1928-29: The explosion of RCA's stock epitomizes market mania (75)

March 31, 1929: Bernays lights the 'Torches of Liberty' (76)

Oct. 24-29, 1929: The Great Crash of 1929 (4)


Aug. 4, 1930: The first U.S. supermarket, King Kullen, opens (81)

1932-34: The Depression-era securities laws (19)

May 12, 1933: The Agricultural Adjustment Act is signed (50)

1934: Benjamin Graham's Security Analysis is published (62)

June 1934: FDR signs the act creating the Federal Housing Administration (73)

1935: The Public Utility Holding Company Act is enacted (85)

Dec. 17, 1935: The first DC-3 flight (27)

1936: Keynes publishes The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (12)

1936-37: The United Auto Workers stage their first sit-down strikes (14)

March 1, 1936: Hoover Dam is completed (61)

1939: Hewlett and Packard put Silicon in the Valley (16)

April 20, 1939: The first commercial television broadcast (23)


1940: Charles Merrill re-creates Merrill Lynch (52)

World War II: Coca-Cola becomes a global brand (41)

1941-45: Rosie the Riveter and FEPC: Women and minorities contribute to the war effort (72)

1942: Kaiser's World War II shipyards surpass all expectations of production (7)

September 1943: A Merck scientist synthesizes streptomycin (25)

1944: The Bretton Woods agreement (29)

June 22, 1944: FDR signs the GI Bill of Rights (43)

1946: The baby boom begins (51)

1947: Kennan's 'X' letter gives birth to the peacetime military-industrial complex (13)

1947: Three Bell Labs scientists invent the transistor (28)

June 5, 1947: The Marshall Plan (39)

October 1947: Levittown opens (49)


July 17, 1955: Disneyland opens (98)

June 29, 1956: Eisenhower creates the interstates (1)

1957: The first Japanese car, a Toyota, is sold in the U.S. (26)

July 29, 1958: Eisenhower signs the act creating NASA (56)

September 1958: Bank of America launches the first credit card (22)


1960s: President Johnson's Texas-sized spending spurs domestic inflation (68)

July 1960: Maiman unveils the first working laser (79)

1961: Kroc buys McDonald's (15)

1961: Frances Kelsey blocks the U.S. approval of thalidomide (63)

1962: The first Wal-Mart opens (8)

June 1962: The New Yorker serializes Silent Spring (53)

1963: Valium is introduced (87)

June 10, 1963: Equal pay for equal work (5)

1964: The Civil Rights Act (31)

Jan. 11, 1964: The surgeon general reports that smoking causes lung cancer in men (83)

June 28, 1965: Intelsat 1 goes into service (80)

July 30, 1965: President Johnson signs Medicare into law (20)

August 1965: Watts explodes in race riots (54)

1968: Hospital Corp. of America is founded (48)


1970s: Wage stagnation starts (37)

1970: Xerox founds its Palo Alto Research Center (32)

1971: Intel invents the single-chip microprocessor (2)

1971: MCI is authorized to compete with AT&T (77)

1971: Michael Milken starts Drexel's junk-bond trading operation (82)

June 18, 1971: Southwest Airlines begins flying (91)

1973: Cohen and Boyer pioneer recombinant DNA techniques (67)

April 1973: Federal Express begins operations (70)

May/June 1973: Black and Scholes introduce their options pricing model in the Journal of Political Economy (71)

1973-74: The OPEC oil shock (40)

Sept. 2, 1974: President Ford signs ERISA into law (34)

May 1, 1975: Wall Street's fixed commissions end (59)

June 20, 1975: Jaws ushers in the blockbuster era in Hollywood (95)

September 1975: HBO via satellite accelerates the fragmentation of the TV marketplace (84)

August 1976: Bogle launches the First Index Investment Trust (89)

1978: Toys R Us revives employee stock options (30)

1978: The University of Phoenix, a for-profit university, is accredited (96)

October 1978: The California asbestos lawsuits (60)

March 29, 1979: The Three Mile Island disaster (99)

August 1979: Volcker becomes Fed chairman (24)


1980: Reagan is elected (11)

1980: The Supreme Court allows gene patenting (33)

1980: The CCITT Group 3 recommendation for facsimile machines is adopted (65)

Jan. 7, 1980: The government bails out Chrysler (69)

1981: Microsoft is tapped to provide the IBM operating system (21)

August 1981: Reagan fires federal air traffic controllers (45)

October 1981: Harley-Davidson adopts Japanese management techniques (92)

August 1982: The current bull market begins (9)

1984: Calpers promotes shareholder activism (57)

Jan. 1, 1984: AT&T is dismantled (46)

Dec. 6, 1984: Nasdaq gets its first blue-sky exemption (64)

1987: Nike's Revolution ads commodify dissent (97)

Oct. 19, 1987: The Black Monday crash (78)

1988: The savings-and-loan crisis peaks (47)

1989: The Berlin Wall falls, heralding the triumph of market capitalism (38)


April 1993 to present: Lou Gerstner turns IBM around (90)

Aug. 9, 1995: Netscape goes public (18)

Oct. 29, 1996: AOL goes to flat-rate pricing (74)

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