At the mention of the richest man in recent history, most people will rush to say that these are undoubtedly Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. But is this really the case?
The man in question was born in the late thirties of the nineteenth century in New York State and was named John Davison Rockefeller. Since childhood, his talent for running a business was well fed in the form of advice from a risky but prudent father who had considerable experience in financial transactions, and the upbringing of a strict and thrifty mother. At the age of 13, John went to school in Richford. In his autobiography, he wrote that it was difficult for him to study and he had to study hard to complete his lessons. Rockefeller successfully graduated from high school and went to Cleveland College, where he taught accounting and the basics of commerce, but soon came to the conclusion that three months of accounting courses and a thirst for activity would bring much more than years of college, so he left it.
Having made a small capital on the supply of food and fodder, John decides to bet on the kerosene lamps that were gaining popularity at that time. In an effort to expand the business, he buys out an oil refinery from his partners, and also gets a part of the oil wells into his property. So at the age of 26, John Rockefeller became the owner of his own oil business. Through bribery, intrigue, and threats, the pious "deacon," as his acquaintances called him, obtained discounts from railroad carriers for the transportation of petroleum products and set about seizing control of the market.
At that time, kerosene, which was produced from oil by numerous small companies, was different in composition and quality. In 1870, Rockefeller and his partners founded the Standard Oil Company, which bought raw materials from oil producers and processed them according to a strictly unified standard. In its early days, Standard Oil controlled a tenth of the U.S. refining industry and operated refineries, barrel manufacturing, a fleet of tankers, and a network of warehouses. In these roaring years, Rockefeller consistently defeated all rivals in the war of tariffs for the transportation of petroleum products by rail and survived several price collapses. By 1880, thanks to numerous small and medium-sized mergers, Rockefeller had 95% of America's oil production in his hands. By becoming a monopoly, Standard Oil raised prices and became the largest company in the world at that time. 10 years later, the Sherman Anti-Monopoly Act required Standard Oil to be split up. After that, Rockefeller split the business into 34 small companies and retained a controlling stake in all of them, while increasing capital. Almost all major American oil companies are descended from Standard Oil, including ExxonMobil, Chevron.
Rockefeller elder emerged victorious from the oil war, but his image (largely through the efforts of competitors) became a symbol of greed, ruthlessness and corruption. In order to enter high society, just money is not enough, you need a reputation and a relatively good name, for which the oil magnate took up charity work. With his money, the famous University of Chicago, the Medical Institute (later Rockefeller University) in New York and the Rockefeller Foundation were founded. The latter still allocates money for the development of art and scientific programs. In general, John Rockefeller elder spent half of his billion-dollar fortune on charity.
The activities of the first dollar billionaire had a great impact not only on the United States, but also on the entire world oil market, partly thanks to Standard Oil, the system was established, because of which oil is measured in barrels until today.
With such an extensive business and amazing business acumen, John achieved that by the end of his life his fortune was 1.4 billion US dollars (nominal value of 1937) or 1.54% of US GDP. When adjusted for inflation, The New York Times estimates his wealth to be about $ 305 billion in the 2006 equivalent, or $ 389 billion in the 2018 equivalent. It is this fact that allows us to say that Rockefeller elder is the richest man in recent history.