GM's September 16, 1908 certificate of Incorporation.
1897-1909, Creation, Gathering the Parts.
When America’s first auto show opened in New York in 1900, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was less than fifty years; less than fifteen percent of households had bathtubs; and there were fewer than 8,000 automobiles in the country.
Yet the show featured more than 300 new vehicle models and drew more than 50,000 paid customers. With the automobile catching the public’s fantasy, more than 100 different infant U.S. firms were soon in the game--and two-thirds of the vehicles they built were powered by steam or electricity.
Although the newspapers took no notice of the birth of General Motors on September 16, 1908, the company was soon one of Wall Street’s highest fliers and was on an acquisition spree that brought in some twenty companies in a period of less than two years. Under the new GM umbrella, the Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Oakland (later Pontiac) brands were soon household names and were doing business far beyond the founder’s home base in Flint, Michigan.
In Europe, where the world’s first workable internal combustion engine had been developed in 1876 and the first automobile in 1885, a German company called Adam Opel, which traced its roots to sewing machines and bicycles, was also growing; as was an English company called Vauxhall.
They, too, would soon join the growing global family of General Motors.
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