The Warren Buffett & Berkshire Hathaway Timeline


Buffett's birth

Warren Edward Buffett is born on August 30,1930 in Omaha, Nebraska as the second of three children to Howard and Leila Buffett, who married in 1925.

Buffett's older sister Doris is born in 1928. His sister Roberta, known as "Bertie," is born when Warren is three years old.


Buffett buys his first stock

After predicting to a childhood friend he will be a millionaire by the time he is 35, Buffett buys his first stock at the age of 11. Looking back, he laughingly tells CNBC, “I don’t know why I wasted that time beforehand. I got started late.”

Buffett pays $38.25 each for three shares of Cities Service preferred. It falls to around $27, then rebounds to $40, prompting Buffett to sell at a small profit.

It later tops $200 per share, teaching him a crucial lesson about the value of patience.


Buffett family moves to Washington

Buffett's father, who owns a small brokerage firm in Omaha, runs for Congress as a supporter of the gold standard, winning the first of three terms.

Buffett delivers newspapers and tries various business ventures.

He arrives with around $120 and leaves several years later with $10,000, roughly $100,000 in 2018 dollars.


Discovers "The Intelligent Investor"

Throughout his teens, Buffett reads voraciously and tries a number of investment techniques.

Then, in 1949, while a student at the University of Nebraska, he reads "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham. It profoundly shapes his investing philosophy, providing him with the three basic principles that will guide him from then on.

Meets GEICO’s Lorimer Davidson
January, 1951

When he is 20, Buffett gets what he later calls "a huge head start" in the insurance business, meeting Lorimer "Davy" Davidson, CEO of the company that will become GEICO.

In this 2007 Berkshire video, Buffett recounts the unusual circumstances that led to a conversation in which he "probably learned more … than I learned in college," and Davidson speaks about his long friendship with Buffett.

Marries Susan Thompson
Warren Buffett and Susan Thompson on their wedding day

Warren Buffett and Susan Thompson are married in Omaha. Thompson had been college roommates with Buffett's sister Roberta.

Susan’s progressive politics contribute to Buffett's generally liberal views.

The couple start living separately in 1977 when Susan relocates to San Francisco to further her singing career.

They remain married until her death in 2004.


Starts first Buffett Partnership

After working for two years in New York with his mentor, Ben Graham at Graham-Newman, Buffett returns to Omaha in 1956.

At the age of 25, he starts a partnership with seven investors, including his father-in-law, his sister Doris, his aunt Alice, and a college roommate.

The initial investments total just over $105,000. Buffett puts $100 of his own money into the partnership.

His fee is 50 percent of profits above a 4 percent gain, but he also agrees to cover 25 percent of any losses.


Buys modest Omaha house

Two years after starting his first partnership, Buffett is doing well enough to afford a house in Omaha, paying $31,500. ($270,000 in 2018 dollars).

Despite becoming one of the world's richest people over the next 60 years, he doesn't trade up.

At the 2014 annual meeting, he tells shareholders, "I have everything in life I want… My life would not be happier, and it'd be worse, if I had six or eight houses or, you know, a whole bunch of different things I could have. It just doesn't correlate."

Meets Charlie Munger

Buffett and Charlie Munger meet through mutual friends in 1959 and realize as they are laughing at their own jokes that they are “sort of made for each other.”

They work together informally until 1978 when Munger joins Berkshire as vice chairman.

In this 2016 interview for “On the Money,” they describe their friendship.

Buys Berkshire Hathaway
May 10, 1965
Buys Berkshire Hathaway
May 10, 1965

After several years of acquiring what he sees as undervalued shares of Berkshire Hathaway, a struggling textile mill in New Bedford, Mass., Buffett takes control of the company in 1965.

Even though it will grow into a giant conglomerate worth more than $500 billion in 2018, Buffett calls the purchase one of his biggest mistakes.

In this 2010 interview with CNBC's Becky Quick, he explains why.


Berkshire acquires See's Candies

Berkshire cautiously buys a small California-based candy maker for a fully-valued $25 million.

It becomes one of Buffett’s favorite investments, a “dream business” with strong brand loyalty that churns out cash and needs almost no new capital.

Munger recalls it as an important lesson. It is the first time they “really stepped up for brand quality. And it was a hard jump for us. We’d been used to buying dollar bills for 50 cents.”


Stock Milestone

In May, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $1000 for the first time.

Buys Coca-Cola stake

Warren Buffett loves to drink Cherry Cokes and he loves Berkshire’s investment in Coca-Cola.

At the end of 2017, Berkshire’s almost 10 percent stake in the company is worth $18.4 billion. That’s a staggering gain of over 1300 percent from its $1.3 billion cost basis.

Buffett credits the soft-drink’s company’s decades of advertising for building a “mindshare” that can’t be matched by competitors.

Meets Bill Gates
July 5, 1991

Gates and Buffett first meet when Buffett is invited to dinner with Gates' parents at their Washington State vacation home. Gates resists his mother’s invitation to join them, telling her, “Look, he just buys and sells pieces of paper.”

After reluctantly agreeing to attend, he finds himself “lost in conversation” with Buffett.

“He was funny, but what impressed me most was how clearly he thought about the world. It was a deep friendship from our very first conversation.”


Stock milestone

In November, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $10,000 for the first time.

The market value of the company is $14.9 billion.


Stock milestone

In January, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $50,000 for the first time.

The market value of the company is $76.4 billion


At height of internet bubble, Buffett warns investors are “expecting far too much”

Speaking in July at Allen & Co’s annual Sun Valley media conference, Buffett argues that too many people believe the dramatic stock gains since 1981 will continue for the following 17 years.

But, he says, it is unrealistic to think that corporate profits and the economy will grow enough to keep fueling the bull market expectations.

And while he agrees the internet will change the world, he points out that very few investors at the beginning of the 20th century were able to pick the winners from two other transformative technologies: cars and airplanes.

Teams with Gates Foundation to give away almost all his wealth
June, 2006

Rather than go through the distraction and expense of creating his own charity, Buffett “outsources” most of the work to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“What could you find that's better than turning to a couple of people who are young, who are ungodly bright, whose ideas have been proven, who already have shown an ability to scale it up and do it right?”

Marries Astrid Menks
August 30, 2006
Astrid, Warren, and daughter Susie, Photo: Berkshire Hathaway

When Susan Buffett moves to California in the ‘70s, she asks a friend to look after her husband.

Astrid Menks becomes Buffett’s companion even as he remains in what his daughter approvingly calls an “unconventional” marriage.

Just before she dies in 2004, Susan says, “She takes great care of him, and he appreciates it and I appreciate it.”

On his 76th birthday, Buffett and Menks are married in a brief civil ceremony.


Stock milestone

In October, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $100,000 for the first time.

The market value of the company is $162.6 billion.


Writes "Buy American. I am" op-ed for the NY Times

Near the height of the credit crisis following the September 15 collapse of Lehman Brothers, The New York Times publishes an op-ed by Buffett headlined, “Buy American. I Am”

“A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread.”

While he later admits he is a bit early, Buffett’s long-term optimism leads Berkshire Hathaway to invest in troubled companies including Goldman Sachs and General Electric, producing billion in profits in the following years.

Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
February 15, 2011
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

At a White House ceremony, President Obama calls Buffett “not only one of the world’s richest men, but also one of the most admired and respected.“

Obama praises him for demonstrating that “integrity isn’t just a good trait -- it is good for business” and for “devoting the vast majority of his wealth to those around the world who are suffering, or sick, or in need of help."


Treatment for prostate cancer

On April 17, Buffett reveals he has been diagnosed with stage I prostate cancer. But, he assures shareholders, “The good news is that I’ve been told by my doctors that my condition is not remotely life threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way.”

In September, after completing two months of daily radiation treatments, Buffett is “so glad to say that’s over” and jokes about his long-standing plan to be the world’s oldest man.


Stock milestone

In August, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $200,000 for the first time.

The market value of the company is $338.2 billion.


Stock milestone

In December, the price of one share of Berkshire Hathaway stock tops $300,000 for the first time.

The market value of the company is $489.4 billion.

"Movement to succession"
January 10, 2018

Gregory Abel and Ajit Jain join the Berkshire Hathaway board as vice chairs. Buffett tells CNBC the appointments are "part of a movement to succession over time" but says he's in very good health and has no plans to give up his CEO role anytime soon.

Abel, the CEO of Berkshire's energy subsidiary, is put in charge of Berkshire's non-insurance businesses. Jain, who had been running the reinsurance business, is given responsibility for all insurance operations.


Bitcoin is "probably rat poison squared"

Buffett annoys cryptocurrency enthusiasts worldwide when he warns long-term investors to stay away from bitcoin, predicting "in terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending." When or how, he adds, "I don't know."

"The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke, in my view."