In 1901, United States Steel Corporation became the first ever company to amass a $1 billion valuation.

Then, in 1955, car giant General Motors became the envy of the corporate world when it surpassed a $10 billion valuation. That milestone was eclipsed 40 years later, in 1995, by General Electric, which became the world's first $100 billion company.

These companies' milestones highlight how the U.S. economy evolves over time. First, steel drove the most value in the stock market. Then it was cars, until GE built an industrial conglomerate that featured everything from white goods to financial services.

That changing of the guard hasn't stopped, and it probably never will. In 2018, Apple became the first company to achieve a $1 trillion market capitalization, emblematic of a market dominated by technology. Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet joined the $1 trillion club soon after.

I'm going to share two companies that could eventually meet those tech giants in that exclusive circle. One of them will deliver substantial gains for investors if it gets there, while the other is already knocking on the door. 

1. Advanced Micro Devices

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD 3.68%) is worth just $134 billion as of this writing, so it has some catching up to do. But there's no doubt it has the potential to become one of the most valuable companies in the U.S. in the future. It's a leader in the increasingly important semiconductor sector, where it produces some of the world's most sought-after computer chips.

AMD operates across consumer segments such as gaming and personal computing, where it provides semiconductors to brands like Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation. But it also has a powerful data center segment, from which it serves some of the largest cloud services platforms in the world. That part of AMD's business could be set for a transformative decade ahead thanks to its $49 billion acquisition of Xilinx last year.

Xilinx is the global leader in adaptive computing, and together, the combined companies think they will be at the top of the high-performance computing industry for years to come. Adaptive hardware can be reconfigured even after the manufacturing process, allowing end users to make adjustments to suit their required workload in a live environment. That has the potential to shorten the upgrade cycle, which could supercharge progress in areas like artificial intelligence software, which often advances more quickly than the chips that power it.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the semiconductor industry was worth $573 billion in 2022. But it could grow by 12.2% per year, meaning AMD will be playing in a $1.5 trillion annual market by 2030. Plus, if AMD becomes a bigger player in areas like the data center and AI, that could add trillions to the company's opportunity in the coming years. 

AMD generated $23.6 billion in revenue in 2022, greater than a fourfold increase from the $5.3 billion it generated just five years prior in 2017. Perhaps the company won't grow at that pace over the next five years, given that the starting figure is substantially larger, but as industries such as AI mature over the next decade, that will spur demand for advanced chips, and it's reasonable to expect a growth acceleration for producers like AMD over the longer term. 

The company will probably have to achieve in excess of $175 billion in annual revenue to amass a $1 trillion valuation, so investors might have to wait until well into the 2030s. An expansion of its price-to-sales ratio from currently suppressed levels could also help. But if it gets there, investors will earn a 646% return on their money based on where its stock trades today. 

2. Amazon

Compared to AMD, Amazon's (AMZN 0.67%) membership in the $1 trillion club feels like a foregone conclusion. First of all, the company is worth $950 billion as of this writing, so it needs a mere 6% gain to get there. Second, its stock is down 50% from its all-time high, so it has already spent quite a bit of time in the exclusive circle with its larger peers in the past. 

Amazon is the largest e-commerce company in the world, but ironically, that's why its stock has suffered recently. It's not a great business to be in when inflation is running hot, because it sends costs soaring while consumers have less purchasing power. Luckily, though, Amazon is constantly diversifying its operations.

Online sales made up about 42% of its $513.9 billion in revenue during 2022, and the rest came from a mix of cloud computing, digital advertising, and content streaming, which were the notable contributors. Investors watch the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform very closely, because it's the profitability engine behind the entire company, and it regularly leads all segments for revenue growth. 

AWS is the leading provider of cloud services globally, offering hundreds of solutions to its business customers to help them transition into the digital world. According to Grand View Research, the industry could be worth $1.5 trillion per year by 2030, so Amazon's leadership position will be incredibly valuable.

A continued decline in inflation or even a recovery in the broader stock market will probably be enough for Amazon to reclaim its $1 trillion valuation. But its impressive portfolio of businesses -- which continues to expand -- makes the company an eligible candidate based on pure merit.