The Basics of Business History: 100 Events That Shaped a Century

We pondered the past 100 years and came up with a list that ranks everything from McDonalds to Rosie the Riveter to Three Mile Island. Check it out for the most off-beat history lesson you'll ever have.
Publish date:

With only a couple weeks left 'til the new month/year/decade/
century/millennium/anthrax attack on Times Square, we figured now would be a good time to dust off our TSC Countdown: A Century of U.S. Business. For those who weren't subcribers back in May (or who were but unaccountably missed the original), the Countdown is our highly unscientific attempt to rate and explain the 100 most important events and ideas that drove American business this century. If the feedback we received is any indication, the Countdown struck a chord, and we hope you'll enjoy it just as much now as you seemed to six months ago. And we look forward to hearing from you, our loyal readers: Where have we gone wrong? What have we missed? What did you like? But please get those emails in fast. After all, power outages, mass riots, and the permanent failure of all computers are less than a month away...

Which was more important to U.S. business -- Bill Gates' licensing of MS-DOS to


(IBM) - Get Report

or the introduction of Bakelite? We think you'll be surprised. In


Basics of Business History

, we count down the top 100 U.S. business events of the 20th century, ranking the signal points, inventions, ideas and companies from least important to most. Take a look at the

introduction to get an idea of our (subjective) qualifications, and then start ticking through the events from 100 to 1. You can view the events in their political and cultural context in the


Timeline, and get a quick overview of our choices with the

chronological and

numerical lists.

Disagree with an entry? Of course you will! Shoot us an email at And don't forget to visit our

feedback page, where readers have already jumped in and given us their take.

Countdown: An Introduction

Countdown: Nos. 100 to 81

Countdown: Nos. 80 to 61

Countdown: Nos. 60 to 41

Countdown: Nos. 40 to 21

Countdown: Nos. 20 to 1

Chronological list

Numerical list

Reader feedback