This timeline outlines key events in the 50-year history of FedEx Corporation, one of the world's largest delivery services.

Divided into three eras covering the company's founding, rapid growth, and recent years.

Tracking FedEx from its inception in 1971 as an ambitious startup for overnight package delivery, through expansion into ground shipping and global logistics, to its current position as a transportation leader investing billions to make its vast operation carbon neutral over the next two decades.

FOUNDING ERA (1971-1994)

FedEx truck in the 1970s
© History Oasis

1971 — Overnight Delivery

Frederick W. Smith develops idea for overnight delivery service in a term paper while studying economics at Yale.

Envisions network of planes and hub airports for fast package delivery.

Graduates from Yale and pursues idea, though professor called it unrealistic.

1973 — Incorporation

Incorporates Federal Express in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Begins operations in Memphis, Tennessee in April.

Choses location for proximity to the center of US population; central location reduced distance for deliveries.

Also choses Memphis for favorable weather conditions.

1975 — Hard Beginnings

Struggles in early years with costs exceeding revenue as the network builds out.

Almost goes bankrupt, survives by raising additional capital.

1979 — Fleet Expansion

Expands air fleet with purchase of several Boeing 727 planes.

1983 — $1 Billion

Reaches $1 billion in annual revenues, a rapid rise for a startup not using mergers & acquisitions.

Adds next-day delivery service for small packages up to 150 lbs.

1988 — Largest All-Cargo Airline

Acquires airline Flying Tigers for $880 million.

Becomes the largest all-cargo airline in the world at that time.

Links FedEx with Asian markets served by Flying Tigers routes.

1994 — FedEx Corporation

Changes company name to FedEx Corporation.

Adopts "FedEx" branding long used unofficially to refer to Federal Express.

RAPID GROWTH ERA (1994-2006)

FedEx cargo plane
© History Oasis

1997 — Ground Expansion

Reorganizes business units under a new holding company called FDX Corporation.

Purchases Caliber System Inc, including RPS, a ground delivery service.

Begins strategy of acquiring companies that expand logistics capabilities.

2000 — Logo Change

FDX Corp holding company changes name to FedEx Corporation.

Rebrands RPS as FedEx Ground, establishes common Purple/Orange logo.

Other acquired units like Roberts Express also rebranded as FedEx companies.

2001 — USPS Partnership

Wins contract to be exclusive express cargo carrier for U.S. Postal Service.

The 7-year, $6.3 billion contract rapidly grows FedEx's revenue & package volume.

2004 — Kinko’s

Acquires Kinko's for $2.4 billion - largest purchase to date.

Over 1,200 retail locations rebranded as FedEx Kinko's locations.

Provides improved customer access to FedEx shipping services.

2005 — USPS Expansion

Wins new 7-year, $9 billion USPS air cargo contract.

Extends relationship as USPS's exclusive provider of Express Mail.

2006 — Nationwide Expansion

Expands ground delivery capabilities in Western U.S.

Acquires Watkins Motor Lines based in Florida.

Watkins rebranded in 2008 as FedEx National LTL.


a modern FedEx EV
© History Oasis

2008 — Decline in Printing Services

With print services declining, rebrands FedEx Kinko's locations as FedEx Office.

Shifts focus on package shipping, business services, and online access.

2011 — EV Shipping

Begins adding all-electric delivery vans to reduce environmental impact.

Tests hybrid and electric trucks for ground delivery routes.

2015 — TNT Express

Acquires Dutch delivery firm TNT Express for $4.8 billion.

TNT merger expands FedEx Express deliveries across Europe, Asia, Africa.

2018 — NRA Fallout

FedEx severs ties with customer National Rifle Association after public pressure.

Stakeholders focus on increasing social responsibility.

2020 — E-Commerce Boom

Acquires e-commerce platform ShopRunner to support online retail clients.

E-commerce volumes growing for FedEx due to rise of online shopping.

2021 — Carbon Neutral Pledge

Pledges to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2040.

Investing $2 billion in vehicle electrification, renewable energy.

2022 — Smith Steps Down

Founder Fred Smith announces plan to step down as CEO after leading FedEx since 1971.

Raj Subramaniam will succeed Smith, effective June 2022.