Ray Kroc was born on October 5, 1902, in Chicago, Illinois. He attended public schools in Oak Park, Illinois. He left school to serve as an ambulance driver during the First World War. After the war, Kroc tried his hand at being a paper-cup salesman. He became a jazz pianist and started playing in various orchestras. He worked in the Chicago radio station for a while as a music director, after which he became a milkshake machine salesman. The milkshake machine was his own invention. In 1941, he chose to serve as a distributor of the milkshake machine.
During the real estate boom in Florida, he began selling real estate. However, he had to retire to his pianist occupation after the real estate market in Florida went down in 1926. By then, he was a father of one. During the economic crisis, he had to send his family back to Chicago. Eventually, he started working in the Lily-Tulip, where he had worked previously in 1922. He was initially a salesman, and later promoted to the post of midwestern sales manager.
In 1954, Ray Kroc came to know about the drive-in restaurant run by Richard and Maurice McDonald, located in San Bernardino, California. He learned that they used his multi-mixer machines and were making good money out of selling hamburgers, milkshakes, and french fries. He was struck with an idea of starting a franchise in collaboration with the McDonald brothers. He approached the McDonald brothers with a proposal that he would use their name and standards and start a chain of McDonald's restaurants. According to the deal, he would be getting one-half of the gross income of their business. The McDonald brothers agreed to his proposal and Kroc opened the first chain of McDonald's restaurants on April 15, 1955 in Des Plaines, Illinois.
By 1961, McDonald's had more than 130 outlets and Kroc amassed profits of about $2.7 million. It is said, that all big things have small beginnings, and such was the case with McDonald's. Starting from a few outlets, the McDonald's chain grew up to become the most successful food chain in the world. Time 100 listed Ray Kroc in 'The Most Important People of the Century'.
Ray Kroc died of a heart disease in 1984. The 81 years of his life indeed tell a success story.