Raymond Albert “Ray” Kroc (October 5, 1902 – January 14, 1984) was a famous American entrepreneur, best known for turning McDonald's into a nationwide franchise company. Born in Chicago, he travelled America after leaving Chicago public school, working in countless jobs: he worked at a radio station in his home city, as a musician in a Florida club, and a paper cup salesman. He was Roman Catholic and had ancestry from Czechoslovakia.
Eventually he began selling milkshake mixers, and in 1954 he visited the famous McDonald's joint in San Bernadino, California, run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. Kroc was astounded at the success of the simple restaurant, and he also noted that McDonald's operated eight of the drink machines he was selling — one of the reasons he came to begin with. Always aspiring to greater wealth, Kroc, in his 50s, negotiated with the McDonald brothers to let him expand their chain, in which he saw great potential. Though they were first skeptical, they finally agreed, and the results were so great (and Kroc so hopeful for the new chain) that by 1961 he persuaded the brothers to sell out to him, after which he continued to expand.
Kroc is famous for streamlining his business, and he is often compared to Henry Ford. Like Ford, Kroc took existing concepts (the hamburger and the hamburger stand) and revolutionized them. He created extremely specific specifications for the weight, size, and ingredients of his hamburgers, turning them into a mass-produced commodity.
Kroc was featured in Time Magazine's "The Time 100" as one of the most important people of the century. He authored an autobiography entitled Grinding it Out. He was married three times, and died of a heart condition in January 1984, just before McDonald's sold their 50 billionth hamburger.