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Monday, July 25, 2005

Sam Walton (1918-1992) -

Sam Walton (1918-1992) -

Twenty Most Influential Businessmen
Sam Walton (1918-1992) Staff, 07.25.05, 12:00 PM ET readers and editors rank Sam Walton as the fifth most influential businessman of all time. (Read more to find out how ranked them.)

Sam Walton didn't invent the idea of the discount store, he just perfected it. His embrace of information technology and supply-chain management allowed him to dramatically undercut his competitors, and this remains a model for how to blend old and new economies. At a Wal-Mart (nyse: WMT - news - people ) store, cash registers are electronically linked to headquarters and suppliers. The chain, which is by far the biggest retailer in the world, has been universally blamed for killing mom-and-pop stores but, perhaps more significantly, it has left more dollars in shoppers' wallets and spurred an economy that is 66% dependent on consumer spending. The chain is America's largest employer, giving work to more than 1.3 million people. If Walton were still alive, his personal fortune would far outstrip Bill Gates.

Check back with us at noon every business day in July as we countdown the 20 most influential businessmen of all time.

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