Samsung Group, based in Seoul, is South Korea's largest business group. The multinational conglomerate contains numerous subsidiaries and affiliated businesses, most of them under the Samsung brand.
Here are key dates in the company's history: 1938: Samsung is founded by Lee Byung-chull as a trading company. 1953: After the Korean War, Lee forms profitable Cheil Sugar, which is followed by textile, banking and insurance enterprises. 1961: Despite a political coup, charges against Lee of illegal profiteering and a 1966 family scandal of smuggling, the company grows by diversifying into paper products, department stores and publishing. 1969: Lee, with the help of Sanyo, establishes Samsung Electronics. It produces inexpensive TVs, microwave ovens and other consumer products for Western companies such as Sears and General Electric. 1970s: Under a government policy of rapid industrialization, Samsung launches a number of enterprises in ship building, petrochemicals and aircraft engines. 1980s: The company is exporting electronics under its own name. 1983: Samsung begins production of personal computers. 1987: Lee's son, Lee Kun-hee, assumes control of Samsung. 1988: Samsung Semiconductor and Telecommunications merges with Samsung Electronics. Its core business focus is home appliances, telecommunications and semiconductors. 1990: Samsung becomes a world leader in chip production. 1994: Samsung Motors is formed. 1996: Lee Kun-hee is involved in a corruption scandal and gets a suspended sentence for bribery. 1998: Samsung completes the development of flat-screen televisions and begins the first mass production of digital TVs. Samsung Motors delivers its first cars. 2005: Samsung develops the first speech-recognition phone. 2007: Samsung Group is accused of political bribery and influence-peddling throughout the South Korean government, judicial branch and the media. 2012: Samsung Electronics becomes world's largest mobile phone-maker by unit sales, overtaking Nokia, the market leader. U.S. jurors rule Samsung must pay Apple (AAPL) $1.05 billion in damages for violating six Apple patents on smartphone technology.