Billionaires’ First Bow: Oct. 5, 1987
Forbes PUBLISHED Its first ranking of the world’s billionaires with a 50-page special report: “A billion dollars seemed a good place to draw a line between wealth and great wealth. How someone managed to make or hold a billion dollars is likely to tell you something about how the world works.” The issue highlighted names both well-known (Kerry Packer) and less so (German mail-order queen Grete Schickedanz) while excluding royalty (Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd) and dictators (North Korea’s Kim Il-sung).
Only 24 countries were home to billionaires; 67 are today. China and Russia had none; India just one. One thing has remained constant: America has always had the most tenfigure fortunes. In 1987 the U.S. had 49; Japan ranked second with 24, followed by West Germany (13), the United Kingdom (7), and Hong Kong and Canada (6 each).