Fred Smith, FedEx founder, president and CEO
Fred Smith, FedEx founder, president and CEO - 
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FedEx Corporate Profile

In 1965, Yale University undergraduate Frederick W. Smith wrote a term paper about the passenger route systems used by most air freight shippers, which he viewed as economically inadequate. Smith argued for the need for shippers to have a system designed specifically for air freight that could accommodate time-sensitive shipments such as medicines, computer parts and electronics.

In August of 1971, following a stint in the military, Smith bought controlling interest in Arkansas Aviation Sales in Little Rock, Ark. He saw firsthand how difficult it was to deliver packages in one to two days. Smith was motivated to find a solution. Thus, the idea for Federal Express was born.

FedEx was incorporated in June 1971 and officially began operations on April 17, 1973, with the launch of 14 small aircraft from Memphis International Airport. On that night, Federal Express delivered 186 packages to 25 U.S. cities from Rochester, N.Y., to Miami, Fla.

The company soon began to expand. In 1989, FedEx bought Tiger International, which made the carrier the world's largest. Today, FedEx Corporation has become the leading provider of shipping and information services worldwide.