From noodles to smartphones — and everything in between

A grocer turned tech giant.

Lee Byung-Chull founded Samsung in Taegu, Korea, in 1938, but it wasn’t a tech or appliance company then. Lee sold noodles, produce, dried fish, and other grocery goods to China and its provinces.

A magnifying glass hovers over the Samsung logo against a purple background.

Following the Korean War, Lee was well-positioned to take advantage of South Korea’s rebuilding boom. He opened a sugar refinery and a textile mill; then acquired banks, insurance companies, an oil refinery, and a department store, among other businesses.

Samsung continued to diversify across numerous industries, including tech. It released its first TV in 1969, and produced semiconductors and other electronics in the ‘70s and ‘80s. After his death, Lee’s son Lee Kun-Hee took over Samsung’s electronics branch and turned it into a top retailer for TVs, phones, tablets, and more.

Samsung, a $90B+ juggernaut, is now a top-five fixture on “best global brands” lists that will be supplanted someday by our neighborhood bodega (or so they hope).

Fun fact: For a deeper dive — and some scandal — check out this ZDNet article.

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