The 500 and Beyond
Big business--how it works and fails to work--has always been our bread and butter.
By Research by Kate Bonamici

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Who needs Mickey? Walt Disney (far left) lets the artists do the acting at a story meeting. November 1934

The American Telephone & Telegraph Co.--the Bell System to most Americans--has changed life mightily in 103 years: Nowadays, to name one marvel, Westerners can communicate among their outbuildings by cordless phone. For AT&T itself, however, no change has ever loomed so large as its impending breakup into eight huge and independent entities. The reorganization rips apart and rearranges an enterprise with more assets, shareholders, employees, and profits than any other in the world.

-- "Breaking Up the Phone Company," June 27, 1983

If every New Yorker were a hen and laying regularly, there would not be enough eggs to fill the A&P demand.

-- "The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company," July 1930

International Business Machines

"We don't get paid for working with our feet--we get paid for working with our heads. Any man on the selling force today could make two dollars where he now makes one, if he would but think along the right lines. 'I didn't think' has cost the world millions of dollars." Having unloosed this bombshell of thought, Mr. Watson caused the word 'think' to be hung all over the factory and offices. Generally it is framed, sometimes graven on pediments in imperishable granite or marble, again embossed in brass, yet again lettered in gold on a purple banner, but always and everywhere it is there. Unceasingly it exhorts men to the Spirit of I.B.M. It is the universal password for a new day; the single commandment of 11,246 Assistants united under a single Leader.

--January 1940

Japanese competition and weak sales of new designs challenged Volkswagen in the early '70s. "Volkswagen Gets a Much-Needed Tune Up," March 1972

Microsoft Goes to Court

What has been most striking in the weeks leading up to the trial is the sheer, unmitigated combativeness with which Microsoft has put forward its arguments, not just in the courtroom--where its open sneering at Netscape is a regular part of the proceedings--but in the court of public opinion. The company will not even concede that it has monopoly power, despite its 90% share of the desktop operating system market. ("If Justice can't accomplish that," laughs San Jose antitrust lawyer Richard Gray, "they all deserve to be fired.") "It's a campaign," shrugged a Microsoft spokesman one day outside the courtroom,"a campaign to persuade not just the public but perhaps even the Supreme Court, which is where this case will almost surely wind up."

--Oct. 26, 1998

Last year, for example, [General Electric] made some $100 million worth of household appliances; by the end of 1942 practically all of them will be replaced by lethal appliances.

-- "The Tranquil Engineers of GE," March 1942

A peek inside Lehman Bros. on a typical Wednesday morning: On the top floor is the switchboard (placing up to 350 long-distance calls a day) and masseuse; the swank private dining room is on eight; partners' offices are on four. December 1957

Research by Kate Bonamici and Chris Zappone