在第二次世界大战之前，风险投资（最初被称为“发展资本”）主要是富裕的个人和家庭的领域。 今天，真正的私募股权投资开始出现，标志着成立前两个风险投资公司在1946：美国研究与发展公司。（ARDC）和J.H. Whitney公司。 相比较，是由Georges Doriot创立，风险资本主义的“父亲”，鼓励私营部门投资业务由士兵从二战返回。相比较的意义主要是，它是第一个机构的私人股权投资公司筹集资金从其他比富裕的家庭虽然有好几个著名的投资成功人士。 相比较，被认为是第一个主要的风险资本的成功故事时，它的1957个投资70000美元的数字设备公司（DEC）将价值超过3亿5500万美元的1968家公司的首次公开发行后。 风险投资公司在1974遭受了暂时性的低迷，股市崩盘，投资者自然对这种新的投资基金持谨慎态度。
Before World War II, venture capital investments (originally known as "development capital") were primarily the domain of wealthy individuals and families.
Today true private equity investments began to emerge marked by the founding of the first two venture capital firms in 1946: American Research and Development Corporation. (ARDC) and J.H. Whitney & Company.
ARDC was founded by Georges Doriot, the "father of venture capitalism" to encourage private sector investments in businesses run by soldiers who were returning from World War II. ARDC's significance was primarily that it was the first institutional private equity investment firm that raised capital from sources other than wealthy families although it had several notable investment successes as well.
ARDC is credited with the first major venture capital success story when its 1957 investment of $70,000 in Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) would be valued at over $355 million after the company's initial public offering in 1968.
Venture capital firms suffered a temporary downturn in 1974, when the stock market crashed and investors were naturally wary of this new kind of investment fund.