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Ford Motor Company (F), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM): A Day Full of Legendary Origins

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On this day in economic and business history …

June 16 is a particularly eventful day for American business. Several of the world’s most iconic companies were founded on June 16ths throughout history. Let’s take a quick look at the origins of these businesses — and at some other important events in the history of American capitalism that also happened to take place today.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)

Birth of the blue oval

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) was officially created on June 16, 1903. This was almost exactly seven years after Henry Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) first successfully test-drove an automobile he’d built himself. It was not Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s first effort at building a car company — two earlier efforts had foundered — but it would be his last, as the world well knows. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) was an immediate success and began paying dividends to its private shareholders later that year.

Here’s an example of how transformative Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s influence was on the auto industry: Only 11,235 motor vehicles were built in 1903, and about 15% of them were Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) autos. In 1909, the year after Ford built its first Model T, total production had risen to 124,000 passenger cars. When the 10 millionth Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1924, it was one of 3.2 million passenger cars built that year, and more than half of them were Fords.

Tabulating a dynasty

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) was created on June 16, 1911, as the result of a merger between three technically inclined manufacturing businesses. It was known as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company until 1924 — the same year that Ford built its 10 millionth Model T. CTR, as it was sometimes known, traced its origins to an inventor named Herman Hollerith, who devised a punched-card tabulator that offered tremendous time savings for enterprises (like the U.S. Census) engaged in the tedium of tallying up vast quantities of data. However, it wasn’t Hollerith who built International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) into the business-services behemoth you know today. Much of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s character was formed during the tenure of the two Thomas Watsons, a legendary father-and-son executive pair that guided the company for more than half a century. You can read more about International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s origins and its Watson-driven rise to prominence when you click on this link.

Another business-oriented computing leader begins

Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) also began its life on the same date as its longtime peer International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), as it was founded on June 16, 1977, as Software Development Laboratories. In fact, IBM has a great deal to do with Larry Ellison’s decision to create the company that would grow into one of IBM’s greatest challengers in software-focused business services. A research paper published in International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)’s Journal of Research and Development during the mid-1970s clued Ellison into the principles of relational database management, which remains the core of Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)’s business today. IBM didn’t see the value in commercializing the concept, and their loss became Ellison and Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL)’s enduring gain — Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) has since grown to become the second-largest software company in the world, worth two-thirds of what IBM is today.

Maybe you should have stuck to the city
The City Bank of New York — forerunner to Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) — was formed in New York City on June 16, 1812, just as the United States was about to enter its second war with England. According to Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) itself, the bank began with $2 million in capital and 22 employees. Revolutionary War Col. Samuel Osgood is credited with founding the bank, and he brought the lessons he’d learned as director of the Bank of North America to bear on expanding banking in then-finance-unfriendly New York City.

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