Thanks to advances in technology in recent years, a number of newer companies have achieved rapid growth and ascended the ranks of the Fortune 500. Amazon, for example, was founded in 1994 and now ranks fifth on the Fortune 500. Alphabet, which was founded as Google in 1998, ranks 15th.
While a number of the country’s largest, fastest-growing tech companies were founded in the last 25 years, the majority of America’s largest companies were founded in the 20th century. About one-fifth of America’s 500 largest public companies were founded before 1900, several with roots tracing back as far as the late 1700s.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the year each Fortune 500 company was founded to determine the biggest company founded the year you were born. In a few cases, where there were no current Fortune 500 companies founded that year, we identified the largest non-Fortune 500 public company founded that year, by revenue.
Yearly changes in the Fortune 500, which has been published annually since 1955, often reflect the shifting nature of the U.S. economy. Many of the companies rising fastest on the list in recent years, for example, operate in one of America’s 25 thriving industries, while many of those falling in are in one of America’s 25 dying industries.
The 1980s yielded more Fortune 500 companies than any other decade. Sixty-one of the current 500 companies — including AT&T, AmerisourceBergen, and Valero Energy — were formed between 1980 and 1989, representing 11.4% 500 companies’ total revenue. The next most prosperous decades were the 1990s, which yielded 48 current Fortune 500 companies, and the years 1900 to 1909, which yielded 40 companies.
More recently, the 2010s yielded 15 current Fortune 500 companies, collectively representing 1.5% of the revenue of the 500. For more on major companies formed in the last decade, see America’s biggest companies that didn’t exist 10 years ago.