As the year comes to a close, we reflect on business success. At the Guru 42 Universe we study information technology success and share many lessons learned over the years. At GeekHistory we study the most successful geeks and explore when visions became reality.
We take a moment to remember one of the world's greatest overachievers of the industrial age, Andrew Carnegie. The name Andrew Carnegie is associated with some of the most successful businesses of the industrial age. He was an amazing and interesting man in many ways.
Overachiever Andrew Carnegie
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Carnegie grew up in Pittsburgh. He became a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company in 1850. As a young man he worked for the the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Carnegie recognized that railroads were becoming big businesses in America and learned all he could about them. Carnegie established businesses that supplied rails and bridges to the railroad.
After the Civil War, Carnegie left the railroad and moved on to the next big thing, the steel industry. The company he started as Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company would go on to become The United States Steel Corporation under the ownership of J.P. Morgan. Andrew Carnegie started out as an immigrant to the United States, and went on to become one of the wealthiest Americans ever. Carnegie's net worth would be over $300 billion adjusted to modern dollars.
Evil capitalist or American hero?
Many people see the super rich as evil capitalists. During his days in business Andrew Carnegie was considered one of the robber barons. The term uses the words robber, meaning criminal, and baron, meaning aristocrat, to imply that the businessmen used unscrupulous methods to get rich. Compared to other American businessmen during the Gilded Age in United States history, from the 1870s to about 1900, you can make the case that Carnegie was not a particularly ruthless man.