An updated 2023 version of this chart can be seen here.

Two years ago, we created animated charts showing the change in America’s largest companies, first by size (revenues), then by profits, market capitalizations, and number of employees.  The new Fortune magazine “Fortune 500” list of the biggest public companies was recently released, so we are updating our charts.  Last week we presented a chart of the largest companies by dollar profits, this week we’ve added a chart of the most valuable companies (based on market capitalizations as of March of each year).

In this new chart below (also available as a video with music), showing the change in the 20 most valuable American public companies over the last 28 years, you can see fundamental changes in the structure of our economy and industries.  The chart can be paused and moved at your own rate using the timeline at the bottom of the chart.  (We will update our chart on the largest employers in coming weeks.)

These numbers have grown remarkably, with the top company (Apple) now valued at over $2 trillion dollars, far more than the size of most nations’ economies!  It would cost you that much to buy up all of Apple’s stock if you have that much spare change laying around.

The oil companies, the banks, and others have all had their place in the sun before the big tech companies.  Note the amazing recent rise of Tesla and Nvidia!

Please enjoy and share!

Gary Hoover
Executive Director
American Business History Center


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