We’ve all gotta start somewhere! It can be hard to imagine some of the most iconic and ubiquitous brands of today as a struggling start-up, yet every company has its own origin story.
While many people like to romanticize and sometimes exaggerate the ‘bootstrap ideology’ of self-made billionaires building the foundations of business empires in their garages, some companies do have genuinely humble and surprising beginnings, and they are really interesting to see!
This list, compiled by Bored Panda, looks at the baby photos of some of the business world’s greatest celebrities. Go back in time to when Amazon was just a book store, and Samsung just a guy with a phone,. Witness these mega-corporations taking their very first steps toward fame!
Scroll down to check them out for yourself below, and let us know what you think in the comments!
Online Bookstore (1994)
Founders – Jeff Bezos
First location – Bellevue, WA
Amazon began as an online bookstore in way back in 1994. Founder Jeff Bezos decided at first to call the bookstore “Cadabra,” He later changed the name to Amazon.com, Inc. a few months later, after a lawyer misheard its original name as “cadaver.”
Bezos selected the name Amazon by looking through the dictionary; he settled on “Amazon” because it was a place that was “exotic and different”, just as he had envisioned for his Internet enterprise. The Amazon River, he noted, was the biggest river in the world, and he planned to make his store the biggest bookstore in the world. Additionally, a name that began with “A” was preferred because it would probably be at the top of an alphabetized list.
Computer Apple I (1976)
Founders – S.Jobs, S.Wozniak, R.Wayne
First location – Cupertino, CA
Steve Wozniak originally assembled the microcomputer Apple I in 1975 for a Homebrew Computer Club meeting in Silicon Valley. Wozniak said, that the basic machine was “the first time in history anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on their own computer’s screen right in front of them.”
Another club member, Steve Jobs, helped to sell 50 orders of the machine for $500 each to a local computer store. The success of the sales made the pair over $50,000 for and encouraged them to get to work on the Apple II.
The rest is history.
Source: Mental Floss
Grocery Trading Store (1938)
Founders – Lee Byung-chul
First location – Seoul, South Korea
Samsung was founded as a grocery trading store on March 1, 1938, by Lee Byung-Chull. He started his business in Taegu, Korea, trading noodles and other goods produced in and around the city and exporting them to China and its provinces.
After the Korean war and during the country’s push to industrialization, the company successfully expanded into textile-manufacturing.
New subsidiaries such as Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung Shipbuilding, and Samsung Precision Company soon followed.
Samsung first entered the electronics industry in 1969 with several electronics-focused divisions—their first products were black-and-white televisions. During the 1970s the company began to export home electronics products overseas.
Rice Cooker (1946)
Founders – Masaru Ibuka, Akio Morita
First location – Tokyo, Japan
After World War II, Sony founder Masaru Ibuka invented a product to try and serve the millions of homes who had electricity but lacked the appliances to use it. The result was this electric rice cooker.
Released under the business name Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute, before Sony itself became an incorporated company, the rice cooker was little more than some aluminium electrodes on the bottom of a wooden bucket. Depending on the unregulated electric current at the time, the kind of rice or how much water was used, the rice generally ended up served as overcooked mush or undercooked grain.
Because of this, the product was never actually released onto the market. Instead, a prototype now sits ensconced in glass at the Sony Archives in Shinagawa, a relic from a distant age before electronic gadgets were the norm.
Wooden Toys (1923)
Founders – Ole Kirk Christiansen
First location – Billund, Denmark
The toy brand that’s best known for its plastic, interlocking bricks was founded by a carpenter.
Struggling to find enough wood to build furniture during Denmark’s recession of the 1930s, Ole Kirk Kristiansen began turning wood scraps into children’s toys. Some of LEGO’s first products included toy trains, automobiles, and a wooden duck on wheels that quacked when pulled.
When he started experimenting with plastic toys in 1947, most department stores weren’t interested. Fortunately for future generations of LEGO builders, that didn’t discourage him, and plastic bricks eventually became the focus of the company.
Source: Mental Floss
Search Engine (1998)
Founders – Larry Page, Sergey Brin
First location – Menlo Park, CA
Google has its origins in “BackRub”, a research project that was begun in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in Stanford, California. The project initially also involved an unofficial “third founder”, Scott Hassan, the lead programmer who wrote much of the code for the original Google Search engine, but left before Google was officially founded as a company.
Page’s ‘web crawler’ began exploring the web in March 1996, with Page’s own Stanford home page serving as the only starting point.
The first version of Google was released in August 1996 on the Stanford website. It used nearly half of Stanford’s entire network bandwidth.
Online Payments Service (1998)
Founders – Ken Howery, Luke Nosek, Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Yu Pan Russel Simmons, Elon Musk
First location – Palo Alto, CA
PayPal was first established in December 1998 as Confinity, a company that developed security software for handheld devices.Confinity was founded by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, Yu Pan and Russel Simmons.
PayPal was developed and launched as a money transfer service at Confinity in 1999.
In March 2000, Confinity merged with X.com, an online banking company founded by Elon Musk. Musk was optimistic about the future success of the money transfer business Confinity was developing.
In October of that year, Musk made the decision that X.com would terminate its other Internet banking operations and focus on the PayPal money service. The X.com company was then renamed PayPal in 2001, and expanded rapidly throughout the year until company executives decided to take PayPal public in 2002.
Stationary Delivery (1943)
Founders – Ingvar Kamprad
First location – Älmhult, Sweden
IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad showed entrepreneurial promise from a young age. At age 5, he began buying matches in bulk from Stockholm and selling them to neighbors for a profit. He later moved on to selling flower seeds, greeting cards, Christmas tree decorations, and more.
In 1943, when he was 17, Kamprad founded IKEA from his uncle’s kitchen table. It began as a mail-order business, selling a variety of items like stockings, jewelry, watches, pens, and picture frames. Kamprad added the first piece of furniture to the company’s offerings a few years later. Furniture sales got even bigger with the introduction of the famous IKEA catalog in 1951 and the first showroom in 1953. IKEA’s furniture soon became the focal point of the company as it began phasing out all other products over the next few years.
Source: Mental Floss
Microblogging Service (2006)
Founders – Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, Evan Williams
First location – San Francisco, CA
Twitter started in 2006 when the podcasting company Odeo realized they needed to reinvent themselves and began brainstorming new creative ideas. Jack Dorsey introduced the idea of creating an SMS that would allow a user to communicate with a small group of people.
Twitter was first called “status” until the group looked in the dictionary for names and found twitter which fit it perfectly. The original product name was twttr.
The project work began on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message: “just setting up my twttr”. The prototype for twitter was tested as an internal service for Odeo employees but later launched publicly in July 2006.
In October 2006, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams formed Obvious Corporation with other members from Odeo. They then bought out Odeo from the investors and other shareholders. In April of 2007, Twitter became its own company.
Source: Profile Rehab
Memory Chip (1968)
Founders – Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce
First location – Mountain View, CA
Automatic Loom (1926)
Founders – Kiichiro Toyoda
First location – Nagoya, Japan
Animation “Alice Comedies” (1923)
Founders – Walt Disney, Roy O. Disney
First location – Los Angeles, CA
Image Computer (1986)
Founders – Edwin Catmull, Alvy Ray Smith, Steve Jobs
First location – Richmond, CA
Game “Hard Hat Mack” (1982)
Founders – Trip Hawkins
First location – San Mateo, CA
Card Game (1889)
Founders – Fusajiro Yamauchi
First location – Kyoto, Japan
Distribution Of Japanese Shoes (1964)
Founders – Bill Bowerman, Phil Knight
First location – Eugene, OR
Fast-Food Restaurant (1955)
Founders – Richard McDonald, Maurice McDonald
First location – San Bernardino, CA
Coffee Shop (1971)
Founders – Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, Gordon Bowker
First location – Seattle, WA
Game “Zombi” (1986)
Founders – Christian Guillemot, Claude Guillemot, Gérard Guillemot, Michel Guillemot, Yves Guillemot
First location – Carentoir, France
College Social Network (2004)
Founders – M.Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes
First location – Cambridge, MA
Facebook was first known as FaceMash,and was started in 2003 by Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg wrote the software for the Facemash website when he was in his second year of college. The website was set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two female student pictures side-by-side and let them decide who was hot or not.
After no shortage of popularity and controversy, the site was expanded by Zuckerberg, along with Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, and the name changed to TheFacebook in 2004. Membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and gradually most universities in the United States and Canada, corporations, and by September 2006, to everyone with a valid email address along with an age requirement of being 13 and older.