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Warren Buffett Timeline

A Chronological History of the Oracle of Omaha: 1930-1956

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  • August 30, 1930: Warren Edward Buffett is born to his parents, Howard and Leila Buffett, in Nebraska.
  • 1941: At eleven years old, Warren buys his first stock. He purchases 6 shares of Cities Service preferred stock [3 shares for himself, 3 for his sister, Doris], at a cost of $38 per share. The company falls to $27 but shortly climbs back to $40. Warren & Doris sell their stock. Almost immediately, it shoots up to over $200 per share.

  • 1943: Warren declares to a friend of the family that he will be a millionaire by the time he turns thirty, or "[I'll] jump off the tallest building in Omaha."

  • 1945: Warren is making $175 monthly delivering Washington Post newspapers. At fourteen years old, he invests $1,200 of his savings into 40 acres of farmland.

  • 1947: In his senior year of high school, Warren and a friend purchase a used pinball machine at a cost of $25. Buffett begins to think about the potential profit, and places it in a nearby Barber Shop. Within months, he owns three machines in three different locations. The business is sold later in the year for $1,200 to a War Veteran.

  • 1947: Warren has earned over $5,000 delivering newspapers. His father presses him to attend college, a suggestion Warren does not take well. Nevertheless, that year, he enrolls as a freshman at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in Pennsylvania. Buffett hates it, complaining he knows more than the teachers.

  • 1949: Classmates return to find that Warren is no longer enrolled at Wharton. He has transferred to the University of Nebraska.

  • 1949: Warren is enrolled in classes, but has already begun his life. He is offered a job at J.C. Penny's after college, but turns it down. He graduates from college in only three years by taking his last three credits over the summer. His savings have reached $9,800.

  • 1950: Buffett applies for admission to Harvard Business School and is turned down. He eventually enrolls at Columbia after learning that Ben Graham and David Dodd, two well-known security analysts, are professors.

  • 1951: Warren discovers Graham is on the Board of GEICO insurance. He takes a train to Washington, D.C., and knocks on the door of its headquarters until a janitor lets him in. After asking if anyone is working, he find a man on the sixth floor, who ends up being high up in the company. They talk for hours while Warren questions him on the business and insurance in general. [Buffett now owns GEICO entirely].

  • 1951: Buffett graduates and wants to go to work on Wall Street. Both his father [Howard] and mentor [Graham] urge him not to. Warren offers to work for Ben Graham for free but Graham refuses.

  • 1951: Warren returns home and begins dating Susan Thompson.

  • 1951: Buffett purchases a Texaco station as a side investment. It doesn't work out as well as he hopes. Meanwhile, he is working as a stockbroker

  • 1951: Buffett takes a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. Using what he learnt, he began to teach a night class at the University of Nebraska, "Investment Principles". The students were twice his age [he was only 21 at the time].

  • April, 1952: Warren and Susie get married. They rent an apartment for $65 a month, and have their first child, also Susie.

  • 1954: Ben Graham calls Warren and offers him a job at his partnership. Buffett's starting salary is $12,000 a year.

  • 1956: Graham retires and folds up his partnership. Since leaving college six years earlier, Warren's personal savings have grown from $9,800 to over $140,000.

  • 1956: The Buffett family returns home to Omaha. On May 1, Warren created Buffett Associates, Ltd. Seven family members and friends put in a total of $105,000. Buffett himself invested only $100. He was now running his own partnership, and would never again work for anyone else. Over the course of the year, he opened two additional partnership, eventually bringing the number under his management to three. Years later, they would all be consolidated into one.

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