AMERICA: A GROWTH INDUSTRY

The credit goes to Edgar P. Smith. That’s the name of the Fortune editor who, more than six decades ago, had an inspired idea: Why not publish a list of the 500 largest industrial companies in the U.S.? And so, in July 1955, the Fortune 500 made its debut, with companies ranked by the size of the previous year’s revenues. The phrase quickly entered the lexicon, and almost overnight the Fortune 500 became the ultimate scorecard for Big Business success in America—and a proxy for tracking our economy’s changes over time.
To highlight that economic evolution, here we present a graphic breakdown of three key years in the list’s history: 1955, the year of its birth; 1995, when the list was expanded to include “service” companies like retailers; and this year’s list. As you can see, Edgar Smith’s big idea is now bigger than ever.

Infographic compares the size of the Fortune 500 in 1955, 1995 and 2017

SAMSUNG HEALTHCARE
Samsung/Washington Post
DIAGRAM
SAMSUNG HEALTHCARE
ALASKA DRILLING MAP
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
ALASKA DRILLING MAP
CARPENTER WAGES
Remodel Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION, 3-D / CGI
CARPENTER WAGES
THE COMPANIES OF THE YEAR
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
THE COMPANIES OF THE YEAR
THE BEST CITIES FOR BUSINESS
Fortune magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
THE BEST CITIES FOR BUSINESS
AN HISTORY OF MEDIA COMPANIES
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
AN HISTORY OF MEDIA COMPANIES
THE NEW SILICON VALLEY
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, 3-D / CGI
THE NEW SILICON VALLEY
BMW i3 COUPE
Fortune Magazine
3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
BMW i3 COUPE
FORTUNE 500 PERFORMANCES
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
FORTUNE 500 PERFORMANCES
WAR’S ENVIRONMENTAL SCARS
The Associated Press
DIAGRAM
WAR’S ENVIRONMENTAL SCARS
BURNING MAN
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
BURNING MAN
EAST BEAT WEST
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
EAST BEAT WEST
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
CR car brands
CARMAKERS IN THE SILICON VALLEY
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, 3-D / CGI
CARMAKERS IN THE SILICON VALLEY
IRAQ WAR DISPLACEMENT
The Associated Press
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
IRAQ WAR DISPLACEMENT
TOP REMODELING COMPANIES
Remodel magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
TOP REMODELING COMPANIES
RENEWABLE FUEL
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
RENEWABLE FUEL
THE 50-STATE SHUFFLE
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE 50-STATE SHUFFLE
BYTES BEAT BRICKS
Fortune magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
BYTES BEAT BRICKS
THE LANZHOU PROJECT
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, 3-D / CGI
THE LANZHOU PROJECT
MOBILITY AT WORK
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
MOBILITY AT WORK
WOMEN CEO PERFORMANCE vs. PAY
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
WOMEN CEO PERFORMANCE vs. PAY
BOTH SIDE OF THE BARRIER
The Associated Press
MAPS, 3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
BOTH SIDE OF THE BARRIER
WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE
CASH HOARDERS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
CASH HOARDERS
AFRICA RISE
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, 3-D / CGI
AFRICA RISE
HOME PRICE DASHBOARD
BUILDER MAGAZINE
DATA VISUALIZATION
HOME PRICE DASHBOARD
NYC TECH MAP
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
NYC TECH MAP
LONDON IMPERIAL COLLEGE NEW CAMPUS
Imperial College London
MAPS, DIAGRAM
LONDON IMPERIAL COLLEGE NEW CAMPUS
HOME PRICE DASHBOARD
Builder Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
HOME PRICE DASHBOARD
SYRIA, AREAS OF CONTROL
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
SYRIA, AREAS OF CONTROL
CORN DERIVATED PRODUCTS
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
CORN DERIVATED PRODUCTS
THE EVOLUTION OF MUSIC PLAYERS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE EVOLUTION OF MUSIC PLAYERS
MOST WANTED MINERALS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
MOST WANTED MINERALS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
MAPPING THE GLOBAL 500
ANIMATION AND CODE
FIND THE BEST VACUUMS FOR YOUR HOME
WORLD TRADE CENTER, AN ANNIVERSARY
FORTUNE MAGAZINE
MAPS, 3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
WORLD TRADE CENTER, AN ANNIVERSARY
ROBOT GARAGE
Fortune Magazine
3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
ROBOT GARAGE
THE MOST INDEBTED COUNTRIES
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE MOST INDEBTED COUNTRIES
COMPANIES PRODUCTIVITY
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
COMPANIES PRODUCTIVITY
QATAR TAKES OVER
Fortune Magazine
OTHER
QATAR TAKES OVER
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
EXPLORE THE FORTUNE 500 (2016)
AMTRAK RIDERSHIP
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
AMTRAK RIDERSHIP
TAXICABS THROUGH HISTORY
NY Times
DIAGRAM
TAXICABS THROUGH HISTORY
WHICH MARKETS ARE CHEAP
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
WHICH MARKETS ARE CHEAP
St. REGIS TOWER
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
St. REGIS TOWER
CHINA INFRASTRUCTURE
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
CHINA INFRASTRUCTURE
THE GLOBAL 500 MATRIX
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE GLOBAL 500 MATRIX
CYBER ESPIONAGE
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
CYBER ESPIONAGE
WHY THE F500 BEATS THE S&P
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
WHY THE F500 BEATS THE S&P
MAP OF TOBACCO TRADE
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
MAP OF TOBACCO TRADE
PILING UP CO2 SAVINGS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, 3-D / CGI
PILING UP CO2 SAVINGS
VOLATILITY IS BACK
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
VOLATILITY IS BACK
HOW FRACKING WORKS
DIAGRAM
HOW FRACKING WORKS
OIL PRODUCTION AND STOCKS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
OIL PRODUCTION AND STOCKS
THE 500 PROFITS RUN OUT OF GAS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE 500 PROFITS RUN OUT OF GAS
WHERE THE WAGE WARS ARE WON
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, 3-D / CGI
WHERE THE WAGE WARS ARE WON
BURIED UNDER BOSTON
The Associated Press
MAPS, 3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
BURIED UNDER BOSTON
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
VENTURE CAPITAL’S EXPANDING UNIVERSE
CLOTHING IMPORTS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
CLOTHING IMPORTS
THE GROWING WEALTH GAP
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE GROWING WEALTH GAP
STOCKS VOLATILITY
Fortune Magazine
ANIMATION AND CODE
STOCKS VOLATILITY
WATCHING THE DOW LEAP
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
WATCHING THE DOW LEAP
AMERICA: A GROWTH INDUSTRY
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
AMERICA: A GROWTH INDUSTRY
BETTING ON AI STARTUPS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
BETTING ON AI STARTUPS
INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING
THE BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
THE BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR
HOUSING STARTS
Builder Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
HOUSING STARTS
THE NEW MOMA
Architect Magazine
DIAGRAM
THE NEW MOMA
SURGERY ROBOT
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
SURGERY ROBOT
IKEA: ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
IKEA: ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
IS HILLARY GOOD FOR BUSINESS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
IS HILLARY GOOD FOR BUSINESS
RAILROAD MERGERS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DIAGRAM
RAILROAD MERGERS
TRUMP’S TWITTER HISTORY
Politico Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, 3-D / CGI
TRUMP’S TWITTER HISTORY
DRUGS
AARP
3-D / CGI
DRUGS
CARBON CAPTURE
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
CARBON CAPTURE
CEO TENURE
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
CEO TENURE
BRAIN CONTROL
IEEE SPECTRUM
DIAGRAM
BRAIN CONTROL
SMART GUNS ARE READY
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
SMART GUNS ARE READY
FIGHTING IN THE STREET
The Associated Press
DIAGRAM
FIGHTING IN THE STREET
DISASTER INSURANCE PAYOUTS
Fortune Magazine
3-D / CGI
DISASTER INSURANCE PAYOUTS
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
Edelman
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION, DIAGRAM
THE INTERNET OF THINGS
CLEANING SAND
The Associated Press
DIAGRAM
CLEANING SAND
THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES
UTAH’S SILICON SLOPES
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
UTAH’S SILICON SLOPES
HOW DOES AN MRI WORK
Temple Health Magazine
3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM
HOW DOES AN MRI WORK
THE SEX WAGE GAP
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
THE SEX WAGE GAP
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
CHARTING THE GENDER GAP
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
60 YEARS OF FORTUNE 500
MAPPING THE INTERNET
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
MAPPING THE INTERNET
MAPPING THE U.S. DATA CENTERS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
MAPPING THE U.S. DATA CENTERS
FORTUNE 500 REVENUES AND PROFITS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
FORTUNE 500 REVENUES AND PROFITS
WORLD AIRLINE HUBS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
WORLD AIRLINE HUBS
DRUG TRAFFIC IN THE AMERICAS
The Associated Press
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
DRUG TRAFFIC IN THE AMERICAS
ANIMATION AND CODE
THE WAY WE EAT
COVER DESIGNS
Fortune Magazine
OTHER
COVER DESIGNS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION, ANIMATION AND CODE
U.S. TRADE WITH THE WORLD
HEALTH CARE BLAZES AHEAD
Fortune Magazine
ANIMATION AND CODE
HEALTH CARE BLAZES AHEAD
HUDSON YARDS PROJECT
Fortune Magazine
3-D / CGI, DIAGRAM, ANIMATION AND CODE
HUDSON YARDS PROJECT
FORTUNE GLOBAL 500 COMPANIES
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION
FORTUNE GLOBAL 500 COMPANIES
RON CONWAY’S INVESTMENTS
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
RON CONWAY’S INVESTMENTS
THE TOP DEVELOPERS
Builder Magazine
MAPS
THE TOP DEVELOPERS
WHEELS OF TOMORROW
Fortune Magazine
DIAGRAM
WHEELS OF TOMORROW
HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADING
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADING
CHINA BUYS INTO THE U.S.
Fortune Magazine
DATA VISUALIZATION
CHINA BUYS INTO THE U.S.
WATER SHORTAGE
Fortune Magazine
MAPS, DATA VISUALIZATION, 3-D / CGI
WATER SHORTAGE
THE SHIPPING NEWS
Fortune Magazine
MAPS
THE SHIPPING NEWS
MAPS, ANIMATION AND CODE
MAPPING THE WORLD CHANGERS