100 Surprising Facts About American Companies and Their History

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In 1958, as an experiment, Bank of America mailed 60,000 residents of Fresno, California a small plastic card with a $500 credit line. BoA figured if it failed, there'd be no media coverage because it was in Fresno. The experiment was hugely successful and the program became Visa.

27. James Sinegal, the former CEO of Costco, said that he did not care about Wall Street analysts who had criticized him for putting the good treatment of employees and customers ahead of pleasing shareholders. A favorite quote attributed to Sinegal is “you have to take the sh*t with the sugar.”

28. Home Depot stocked shelves with empty boxes instead of the actual merchandise in its early days. Home Depot persuaded the vendors to give them empty boxes after the vendors were afraid that Home Depot could not pay them for all the merchandise.

29. In 1919, Ford wanted to use extra profits to raise employee wages and employ more people. Dodge sued them, saying a corporation's only responsibility is to increase shareholder value. This set the precedent for current US corporate law.

30. There is a single ATM in Antarctica, operated by Wells Fargo Bank. It takes Wells Fargo ten months to prepare to service its ATM, and the employee sent must undergo a psychological evaluation in case they are stranded in Antarctica when flights are canceled for the season.

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31UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group

Dr. William McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealth Group, resigned amid a stock-option scandal, and as a consequence, he was given a severance package worth $1.1 billion in 2006, which was 3 times larger than the previous record set by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond just earlier that year

32. Costco sells 157,000 rotisserie chickens each day, on average, for a total of 87 million sold in 2017.

33. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, Comcast customers were billed for unreturned equipment that had been destroyed by the hurricane. Customers were charged as much as $1000 for failing to return modems, DVRs, and other equipment that had been lost or destroyed.

34. In 1941, more than three million cars were manufactured in the United States. Only 139 more were made during the entire war. Ford turned out one B-24 bomber every 63 minutes for 24 hours a day.

35. Kroger uses infrared sensors to track customers in their stores. An algorithm then decides how many checkout lines need to be open to reduce wait times.

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36General Motors

General Motors

Who framed Roger Rabbit is loosely based off of a true conspiracy by General Motors to purchase and dismantle streetcar systems in American cities between 1938-1950. They bought out companies that operated electric streetcars across the USA and fully replaced them with buses, which were reliant on foreign oil.

37. When a hurricane is expected, Wal-Mart’s top-selling items are strawberry Pop-Tarts and beer. It is a more popular prep item than bottled water.

38. A small, single-story building at 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware is the registered home of over 6,500 corporations and more than 200,000 businesses, such as Google, American Airlines, Apple, GM, Coca-Cola, KFC, Verizon Internet Services, and Deutsche Bank.

39. In 1993, insurance company State Farm paid $145 million in punitive damages for having a “Jew list” to discriminate against claimants.

40. Costco audits the companies it buys from to see if working conditions are good, such as people being forced to work overtime to create their products.

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41White Noise

White Noise

Two Bell Lab Employees (aka AT&T ) found a “noise” while testing a new horn radio. Unable to discover the source they pointed radio to space and found the same “white noise”, this led to the accidental discovery of Cosmic Background Radiation that confirmed the Big Bang Theory.

42. Bank of America once mistakenly foreclosed a couple, who sued and won a judgment for $2500 in Legal expenses. When the bank didn't pay the couple, they showed up at the bank with a moving company, a deputy, and a writ allowing them to foreclose the bank and start seizing furniture and cash.

43. AT&T almost caused a nuclear war in 1961. When the USA lost contact with its early warning systems, assuming that the USSR had attacked, bombers were scrambled but recalled when contact was made with an EWS base. The phone blackout was caused by a faulty AT&T switch they had promised to replace.

44. Costco sells $400 million of toilet paper a year. It is often their best selling product.

45. General Electric in Schenectady, New York has the zip code 12345 and they receive thousands of letters to Santa yearly from kids who guess Santa’s address. Employees there often use their breaks to write response letters.



In 2007, a Chicago man faked his own death to get out of a Verizon Wireless contract.

47. Ford slowly sped up the car production line until workers couldn't cope. Unions were formed with the agreement that production line speeds couldn't be altered unless agreed upon.

48. In 2005, a German court upheld the right of citizens to flirt at work in response to Wal-Mart Germany’s policy banning any sign of attraction between its workers. The court said that such regulations may be acceptable in the US, but they are incompatible with German labor law and employees’ personal rights.

49. Target Retail Corporation has 2 U.S. based forensic labs where they solve retail crimes, felonies, homicides, and special circumstances cases for law bureaus that need the extra manpower, facilities, resources and time – free of charge.

50. NBC and AT&T used corporate and government bullying to destroy the life of Edwin Armstrong, inventor of the FM radio, leading to his suicide.


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