Globe 100

Globe 100 at 25: Then & now

The first Globe 100, published in 1989, is a window into another age. The go-go ’80s were an era when computer hardware companies and independent banks dominated our business landscape. Names like Digital Equipment Corp., Polaroid Corp., and Bank of Boston — all gone now — were very big 25 years ago. A look back at how things have changed, compiled by Jay Fitzgerald:

THEN The most valuable company was Digital Equipment Corp., the Maynard computer maker, which boasted a stock market value of $12.1 billion.

NOW The priciest business is Hopkinton digital storage firm EMC Corp., with a market value of $50.2 billion. That’s higher than the combined value of the 24 most expensive companies on the first Globe 100.


THEN It was a smart investment to buy $1,000 worth of Eaton Vance Corp. stock at the end of 1987.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

NOW Those shares of the Boston investment firm, which has appeared on every Globe 100 list, would have been worth more than $120,000 by the end of 2012. A similar investment in the S&P 500 would have grown to about $10,000.

THEN CEOs made a lot of money. Walt Disney Co.’s Michael Eisner enjoyed the fattest paycheck running a public company, raking in $40.1 million.

NOW CEOs still make a lot of money. Oracle Corp.’s Larry Ellison brought home $96.2 million.

THEN You got rich the old-fashioned way,
opening stores and selling stuff. That’s how Sam
Walton, founder of Walmart Stores Inc., became the richest American at the time with $6.7 billion.


NOW You get rich peddling technology. The
richest American is Bill Gates, cofounder of Microsoft Corp., with $66 billion.

THEN Median household income in Massachusetts: $36,086.

NOW It’s about $63,000.

THEN Average 30-year fixed rate mortgage:
10.88 percent.

NOW It’s 3.4 percent.


. . . BUT homes are more expensive. The median sales price of a single-family home in Massachusetts

THEN $157,500.

NOW $285,000.

AP File
Robert Parish, Larry Bird, and Kevin McHale.

THEN The Boston Celtics, with Robert Parish, Larry Bird, and Kevin McHale on the payroll, was a three-year-old public company thanks to local businessman Don Gaston. The value of the team was
estimated at about $115 million.

NOW The Gaston years are not remembered fondly, largely due to the dearth of contending teams
after the original Big Three left in the early ’90s.
But Gaston’s son, Paul, managed to sell Boston
Celtics Inc. for $360 million in 2002. Today, the
privately held franchise is valued at an estimated
$730 million.

Porsche Cars North America
1989 Porsche 944 Coupe

THEN The Porsche 944 was the entry-level sports car
du jour for young professionals with a starting price of $33,245, as advertised in the first Globe 100.

NOW The BMW 335i convertible is the status symbol of choice, starting at about $60,000, with appropriate bells and whistles.(For the record: The value of Porsche 944s today is in the $10,000 range, depending on mileage and condition.)

SOURCES: Equilar Inc., Forbes,, Warren Group, US Census,, Carlson Group, Kelly Blue Book, Village Automotive, Yahoo Finance, Information Please Almanac, World Almanac, Standard & Poor’s. Comparison period: 1988 versus 2012.