The business began in 1940, with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The present corporation dates its founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc, in Des Plaines, Illinois on April 15, 1955, the ninth McDonald's restaurant overall. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers' equity in the company and led its worldwide expansion.
With the successful expansion of McDonald's into many international markets, the company has become a symbol of globalization and the spread of the American way of life. Its prominence has also made it a frequent topic of public debates about obesity, corporate ethics and consumer responsibility.