April 17, 1973: Federal Express Launches Its Operations

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In 1965, Yale undergraduate Fred Smith wrote a term paper outlining a system to accommodate urgent, time-sensitive shipments—he received an average grade.

After years of pursuing his idea, Federal Express began formal operations in 1973 in Memphis. On that first night of continuous operation, 389 Federal Express team members and 14 Dassault Falcon jets delivered 186 packages overnight to 25 U.S. cities

The company became known for its overnight shipping service, and pioneering a system that could track packages and provide real-time updates on package location. Federal Express began showing a profit in July 1975.

The company introduced the SuperTracker® in 1986, a hand-held bar code scanner that captures package information. Federal Express acquired Tiger International Inc. in February 1989, making it the world’s largest full-service, all-cargo airline.

Federal Express officially adopted "FedEx" as its name in 2000.

After the 2000 movie Cast Away was released, Wilson the vollyball was sold at auction to ex-FedEx Office CEO Ken May for $18,500.

FedEx’s 2004 acquisition of Kinko's expands FedEx retail access to all 1,200-plus Kinko's stores. The acquisition was made to expand FedEx's retail access to the general public.

In June 2019, FedEx announced it will not be renewing its $850 million contract with Amazon for U.S. domestic express delivery business.

Today, FedEx is one of the top contractors of the U.S. government. FedEx Trade Networks (rebranded FedEx Logistics in 2019) is now one of North America’s largest-volume customs entry filers and a leader in international ocean and air freight forwarding and trade facilitation.

One of the clearest indicators of how the economy is faring is the level of business activity at FedEx (FDX) and competitor UPS (UPS).

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