There are more major companies than ever before, and the potential for more to enter the landscape has increased with the popularization of the internet according to economists. As companies grow, their objectives, marketing, and products change and evolve, which is why the first products from major companies may seem strange when compared to what the company is putting out today. Here are some of the first products from established industries.
Nokia–The telecommunications giant started in Finland back in 1865. Fredrik Idestam opened a pulp mill and began making paper along the banks of Tammerkoski. The company bounced around other industries like rubber, wood and steel before settling on telecommunications. Nokia is now a subsidiary of Microsoft and is working on improving their mobile devices.
Abercrombie & Fitch–The popular youth clothing store–which has been criticized for not featuring anything other than slim, muscular, ideal models in their advertisements–initially began as a legitimate sporting goods retailer. David Abercrombie founded the company in 1892 in New York City with the purpose of outfitting outdoor enthusiasts with the gear they needed. It wasn’t until the franchise was bought by Limited Brands that they started to appeal to the younger crowds.
Hasbro–The major company responsible for supplying some of the most popular of childrens’ toys (G.I. Joe, Transformers) was started by the Hassenfeld brothers in 1923. When they first started, the brothers distributed textile remnants. They then moved to school supplies, followed by their first foray into toys with the Mr. Potato Head doll in 1952.
Colgate–The first products of one of the most recognizable hygienic major companies didn’t manufacture toothpaste until later in their development. The company began in 1806, and for 70 years they created starch, candles, and soap.
Wrigley The popular chewing gum provider has one of the most unassuming origins of the major companies. William Wrigley Jr. founded the company in 1891. He sold baking soda and soap door-to-door and utilized his own special brand of chewing gum to entice potential customers. After a while, Wrigley Jr. realized that customers didn’t care much for the soda and soap, but were really interested in the chewing gum.
Avon–The popular perfume retailer has an origin story almost identical to Wrigley’s. David McConnell began the company in 1886 and sold books door-to-door. In order to lure women into purchasing his books, McConnell offered little gifts of perfume. Soon, the perfume he was giving away became more popular than the books he was selling. He shifted focus and created the California Perfume Company, later to be called Avon.
Xerox–Before being mostly associated with Xerox machines, this member of the group of major companies had one of the most unfortunate first product origin stories. In 1970, Xerox was the leading developer of computers and computer technology, but not a very big manufacturer. Under company president C. Peter McColough, the group created their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The PARC is responsible for many computer technologies including the mouse, graphical user interface, ethernet, laser printing, and the computer language BASIC. Steve Jobs visited the facility and was inspired by their technology. He utilized it to create his Apple computers and distribute them. Xerox attempted to sue Apple for stealing their technology but were unsuccessful.
By Andres Loubriel