Big is bigger than ever. As shown in this graphic comparison of today’s Fortune 500 with the inaugural roster from 1955, it now takes much more revenue to crack our list of top U.S.-based companies. Our listed companies had $12.5 trillion in revenues last year. Adjusted for inflation, that’s 10 times what the original 500 brought in.
The Fortune 500 earn more today in part because they share a bigger tent. Prior to 1995, the list excluded “service” sectors like financials and retail; today it’s hard to imagine the 500 without, say, Citigroup or Walmart. The algorithmic growth of sectors like health care and technology has created a new class of corporate giants. And while the 500 of 1955 earned most of their revenues in the U.S., the biggest companies of 2015 sell to the whole world.
Design by Nicolas Rapp and Analee Kasudia • Edit and Research by Scott DeCarlo with Orlaith Farrell