Credit: Shutterstock/Walt Disney

I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse

There is probably not a more recognisable cartoon figure in the world than Mickey Mouse. The man who created him is just as well known, creating the Disney brand, which is today amongst the most lucrative and iconic in the world.

Walt was born in 1901 near Chicago, Illinois. One of five children, the family lived in Missouri where a young Walt would make his pocket money by drawing pictures for his family and friends. He took every drawing and photography class he could while at High School, where he was the cartoonist for the school newspaper. When he was 16 he dropped out of school in order to become a volunteer ambulance driver in WWI.

After the war Walt joined with his brother, Roy, to found the first Disney animation studio. His first character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, proved popular and he began to create short films and sell them for $1500 apiece. Disney’s big break would come in 1928 - until that point, animations had been silent films. New technology meant that the could be coupled with sound for the first time, and Walt’s first such short Steamboat Willie was a smash hit. It also marked the debut of his most famous creation: Mickey Mouse.

Disney and his company went from strength to strength, despite some tricky time after WWII, and were the first company to produce a feature length animation in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and in 1955 he opened Disneyland. He had planned to open an even more ambitious site: EPCOT, a futuristic city that would represent the pinnacle of human technology and medical advances. He dies before the project could be completed, and the site allocated for the city instead became the world famous Walt Disney World.

Walt's creations live on through the vast Disney empire, and children and adults alike will be forever thankful.