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Alfred P. Sloan

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Cover of Time Magazine (December 27, 1926)

Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. (May 23, 1875 - February 17, 1966), long-time president and chairman of General Motors, was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied electrical engineering and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1892.

He became president of a machine shop making ball bearings in 1899. In 1916 and 1918, his company merged with United Motors Corporation and with another company to form General Motors Corporation, which started making cars. He became Vice-President, then President (1923), and finally Chairman of the Board (1937). In 1934, he established the philanthropic nonprofit Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. GM under Sloan became famous for managing diverse operations with financial statistics such as return on investment; these measures were introduced to GM by Donaldson Brown, a protege of GM vice-president John J. Raskob who was in turn the protege of Pierre du Pont -- the DuPont corporation owned 43% of GM.

Under Alfred P. Sloan's leadership, public transport systems of trams in the US were successively replaced by buses. Many of the trams themselves were literally burnt in order to prevent any reversal in public transport policies. Frequencies of bus services were decreased on less profitable routes, helping to encourage people to buy their own automobiles and travel independently.

In these ways and others, Alfred P. Sloan continued to increase GM's profitability.

Sloan retired as chairman on April 2, 1956 and died in 1966.

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