John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil have dominated both the industrial and philanthropic landscapes of the modern era. Here are the nine most fascinating things about his life and legacy:

1. He is considered the richest person in history, with an estimated net worth when he was alive of $660 billion in 2007 USD equivalent.

2. Rockefeller became well known in his later life for the practice of giving dimes to adults and nickels to children wherever he went. He even gave dimes as a playful gesture to wealthy men, such as tire mogul Harvey Firestone.

3. The Rockefeller Foundation has distributed more than $14 billion in current dollars.

4. By the 1870s, Standard Oil held nearly 90% share in the oil refining industry of the US.

5. He taught Sunday school, served as a trustee, clerk, and occasional janitor at the Erie Street Baptist Mission Church in Cleveland.

6. Standard Oil wanted to make sure customers knew they were getting 42 gallon in a barrel of oil, so Rockefeller shipped his oil in a distinctive blue barrel. Today a barrel of oil is abbreviated “bbl,” and the first “b” stands for “blue.”

7. Rockefeller remained totally abstinent from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.

8. Rockefeller’s father was a traveling conman who traveled the country selling herbal-remedies, gaining him the nickname “Doc Rockefeller.”

9. John D. Rockefeller’s personal fortune accounted for over 1.5% of the total United States GDP in 1937.


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