As we look forward to BusinessWeek's 75th anniversary this September, we are launching a weekly feature celebrating the Great Innovators who have shared our history. Our goal, between now and the end of the year, is to profile some of the transcendent innovators of our time. In the past few months, our editors have engaged in a lively debate about which people to include. Our staffers from around the world offered their picks from the rich stew of innovation -- people in every field that touches business, from science and technology, management and marketing, to finance, media, and government.
We narrowed our list to people whose innovations not only revolutionized the period they were in but who also developed pathways that would change the world. We have selected inventors, thinkers, managers, leaders, and some lesser-known innovators who have touched our lives.
This week, Detroit Correspondent David Welch profiles the legendary Alfred P. Sloan Jr., president and CEO of General Motors Corp. (GM ) from 1923 to 1946 and chairman of the board until 1956. Sloan is credited with no less than the creation of the modern industrial corporation, and the very concept of the professional manager. The way Sloan structured General Motors came to serve as a model for IBM (IBM ), General Electric (GE ), Procter & Gamble (PG ), and many other companies.
From our first issue on Sept. 7, 1929, in which we reported on breakthroughs in air safety (Americans "have really taken to flying," we said), innovation has been central to our editorial mission, from the birth of computers to the age of the Internet, from the polio vaccine to genetically engineered drugs, from interstate highways to the space shuttle.
An anniversary as big as the 75th is a time to look back at our coverage with pride. The Great Innovators series, in print and on BusinessWeek Online, is a prelude to our 75th anniversary issue in September, which will look at the future of innovation. We hope you will find much in the series to surprise and delight you.
By Stephen B. Shepard, Editor-in-Chief