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THE 50: PEOPLE WHO MOST INFLUENCED BUSINESS THIS CENTURY

11. Alfred P. Sloan Jr. (1875-1966)

October 25, 1999

The pair created a unified national labor front. Meany and Reuther rose from blue-collar jobs to achieve prominence in the U.S. labor movement during its heyday in the 1950s. They helped institute eight-hour workdays, health benefits and pensions for millions of workers. Meany, a plumber, was elected business agent of his local union in 1922 and became president of the New York State Federation of Labor in 1934, where he helped promote the passage of dozens of pro-labor bills. He became secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor in 1939 and moved up to the presidency 13 years later. Reuther, a tool-and-die maker, became shop foreman in a Detroit automobile plant before being fired in 1932 for his union activism. After three years of travel in Europe, he returned to organize auto workers during a period of extreme anti-union violence. He was elected president of the United Automobile Workers of America in 1946, and in 1952 became president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. In 1955, Meany and Reuther merged the two groups to create the labor behemoth, the AFL-CIO, with Meany as president and Reuther as vice president. Despite disagreements in later years over politics and civil rights, the two jointly continued to lead the federation until Reuther died in a plane crash in 1970. Today, the AFL-CIO represents 68 unions with 13 million members.

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31. Juan Trippe (1899-1981)

International Aviation Pioneer

Trippe created the first international airline with Pan American World Airways and he popularized air travel. Using his inheritance, Trippe bought World War I surplus planes to start an airline on Long Island, N.Y. By 1927, he was running his third airline, which merged to form Pan Am. That year, Trippe scheduled an eight-passenger flight for a 90-mile, over-water trip between Key West, Fla., and Havana, Cuba, marking the first international airline flight. By 1930, Trippe had government contracts to fly airmail routes to South America, which financed his passenger service to Latin America. An innovator, Trippe bought flying boats for long-distance flights and added new navigation gear to make flying safer. He signed Charles Lindbergh as a consultant. By the '30s, Pan Am was flying mail and passengers from California to Asia on the China Clipper. After World War II, Trippe wanted the federal government to license Pan Am as a monopoly carrier to compete with foreign airlines. He was turned down. Trippe was Boeing's first customer for the 707 jetliner, which moved Pan Am into the jet age. By the '60s, Trippe had steered Pan Am into the hotel and real estate business, while creating a Byzantine, 81,000-mile air route system servicing 85 countries. Trippe retired as chief executive in 1968. By then, Pan Am was nearly bankrupt. Various executives kept trying to right the company, but soaring fuel costs and deregulation were too much to handle. Pan Am went out of business in 1991.

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32. James Watson (1928- ) AND Francis Crick (1916- )

Fathers of Biotechnology

Watson and Crick discovered the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical strands that help form chromosomes in cells and contain the gene code that is the basis of heredity. Their stunning discovery also led to the creation of a new industry, biotechnology. In the early '50s, scientists knew that DNA played a factor in cells and heredity, but its exact role was unclear. Crick, a British physicist, had worked on radar technology during World War II. Watson was a young PhD from Indiana University. Working together in England, Watson convinced Crick that if they could understand DNA's exact structure they could solve its mysterious role. Using X-ray research on protein molecules passed along by biophysicist Maurice Wilkins, Watson had the insight that DNA consisted not of one but a pair of chemical strands. Watson and Crick clarified DNA's structure to be that of a double helix--a shape resembling spiral staircases--and that if these strands were separated, each would hold a set of chemicals identical to its former partner. This copying process explained how genes are reproduced in dividing cells. Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize in 1962. In the 1970s, scientists began inserting bits of DNA into bacterium to create mini cell factories that reproduced specific proteins. This led to the creation of biotechnology companies, such as Genentech and Amgen, whose gene-spliced drugs now treat everything from AIDS to cancer.

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33. Peter Drucker (1909- )

Father of Management Theory

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