The Fortune 500: 60 years of growth

Big is bigger than ever. If you compare today’s Fortune 500 with the inaugural roster from 1955, you’ll find that it now takes much more revenue to crack the list of top U.S.-based companies. Our listed companies had a cumulative $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 (C) or Walmart (WMT). 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.

Click on the interactive graphic below to see how the companies and industries in the Fortune 500 have grown and changed since we introduced the list 60 years ago.

Macro: The Chartist

Fortune 500: 60 Years of Growth »

A version of this article appears in the June 15, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine.

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