Apple is the first trillion dollar company: What was the first billion dollar valuation?

Apple has seen its share price increase by nine per cent since announcing its latest earnings report

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 02 August 2018 23:22 BST
iPhone X — Unleash — Apple

Apple has become the first ever company to reach a market valuation of one trillion dollars — an achievement that has seen it edge out several other tech giants vying for that historical record.

That achievement — in becoming the first company with twelve zeroes associated with their name — seemed unimaginable in 1997 when Apple teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, with its stock trading for less than $1.

Apple shares rose 2.7 percent to an all-time high of $207.05 around midday on Thursday as they hit the $1tn mark. The company is up 22 per cent so far this year.

In becoming the first trillion dollar company Apple is now placed on an elite list of firsts, as far as market valuation is concerned.

Here are the companies who have reached major financial milestones in the past. One quick note before we get into it, though: The US dollar did not exist until 1792, and since we are essentially talking about market valuations, there was a lot that happened before then that would likely have put other companies on this list. We skimmed over the first company to achieve a market valuation of $1m for that reason. And, because companies like the Dutch East India Company was at one point before the existence of the US dollar worth 78 million Dutch guilders, which would translate to $7.9tn in today's money, we also held back from companies adjusted for inflation.

One billion:

Long before the tech industry was even a sparkle in the eye of the entrepreneurs who revolutionized the way the world works, steel reigned supreme in the world of business — and the US Steel Corporation was the first company to reach a market valuation of one billion US dollars in 1901.

The company was able to achieve that milestone primarily through a desperate attempt by the leaders of the company to reorganize the institution after it was bought from Andrew Carnegie, who had previously owned the bulk of the company under a different name. In order to reorganize the business, US Steel sold over a billion in stocks and bonds, and the public bought up those overvalued securities.

Ten billion:

It took over a half century before a company managed to reach the $10bn valuation mark, but General Motors hit that milestone in 1955, fuelled by a rush among the American populace to buy up personal vehicles in the booming times following the end of World War II.

One-hundred billion:

Twenty-two years later, the technological revolution pushed IBM to become the first $100bn company in 1987. The company, which was founded in 1911, is known for manufacturing computer hardware and software, and remains a major player in the technological world to this day.

Five-hundred billion:

Microsoft first made it to the half trillion mark in 1999, riding on a revolution that changed the way business and personal lives changed with the sale of personal computers. The devices quickly became ubiquitous in industrialized countries and helped set the stage for something of a revolution that threatened establishment industries across the board.

One-trillion dollars:

Apple claiming this title is anything but guaranteed at this point, though it is the closest. Other companies that may reach a trillion dollar valuation in the near future include Google’s parent company Alphabet (currently: $845bn), Amazon ($870bn), and Microsoft ($815bn). Then again, maybe none of the companies will get there. Investors expected Cisco and Microsoft to top that valuation in the late 1990s — but those dreams were shattered alongside the tech bubble burst in March 2000.

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