March 13, 2009 • History Factory
On March 13, 1950, Charles de Gaulle Airport opened for operation in Paris, France, marking a milestone in business travel. The airport—at the time, the largest in Europe—reduced the once-grueling twenty-hour trip between New York and Paris to a mere seven-hour hop. While other airports have surpassed it in size, Charles de Gaulle remains the world’s fifth busiest airport by passenger traffic.
This day also marks the twenty-third anniversary of Microsoft’s Initial Public Offering. In 1986, the software company opened shares to the public for the first time, making Bill Gates an instant millionaire and paving the way for Microsoft’s future ubiquity. The company’s astronomical growth from $520 million then to $169.72 billion today reflects the acceleration of digital technology in the last two decades and its astounding influence on the way we now communicate.
The business world is getting smaller. People, and information, continue to move around the globe at an ever-increasing pace. Today, a business in Paris can hold a meeting in New York in minutes using modern technology, making that groundbreaking seven-hour flight seem unnecessarily time-consuming. Despite that fact, the airport still bustles with business travelers. Perhaps technology may never truly replace the power of the person.