Albert Einstein? Napoleon Bonaparte? Baron Rothschild? Paul Samuelson? John D. Rockefeller? Advertising Copy Writer? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Salespeople and advertisers invoke the name of the scientific genius Albert Einstein when they wish to impress gullible individuals. The following grandiose statement has been attributed to Einstein:
Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.
Sometimes the remark is credited to financial luminaries such as Baron Rothschild or John D. Rockefeller. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The saying appeared in a section titled “Probably Not By Einstein” in the authoritative volume “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1
The earliest close match located by QI appeared in an advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Company published in the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” of Ohio in 1925. No attribution was specified. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2
The Eighth Wonder of the World—is compound interest. It does things to money. At the Equity it doubles your money every 14 years, but here is an even greater wonder of it—
Deposit five dollars a week for twenty years, say, and let the interest accumulate. You will have actually put away only $5,200, but you will have $8,876.80. The difference of $3,676.80 is what 5% compound interest has done for you.
QI hypothesizes that the statement was crafted by an unknown advertising copy writer. Over the years it has been reassigned to famous people to make the comment sound more impressive and to encourage individuals to open bank accounts or purchase interest-bearing securities.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, Quote Page 481, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 1925 April 27, Cleveland Plain Dealer, (Advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Co., 5701 Euclid Ave.) Quote Page 26, Column 6, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank) ↩