adidas was founded in 1949 by Adolf Dassler, following the split from the joint company he and his older brother Rudolf Dassler owned prior to that; the "Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik" (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in 1924. Rudolf went onto establish Puma. Both the adidas and Puma companies still remain in business to this day, in the town of their founding; Herzogenaurach; Germany.

The company's apparel and shoe designs typically feature three parallel bars, and the same motif is incorporated into adidas' current official logo. Besides sports footwear, adidas also produces other products such as bags, shirts, watches, eye wear and other sports and clothing-related goods. adidas is one of the largest sportswear manufacturers in the world.

The Dassler brothers’ success was cemented at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin when Adi Dassler drove to the Olympic Village with a suitcase full of spikes where he persuaded U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens to use them, the first sponsorship for an African American. Following Owens' win of four gold medals, the Dassler’s shoes garnered considerable reputation among the world's most celebrated sportsmen.

The brothers split up in 1947, each going their separate ways, with Rudi forming a new firm that he called Ruda and Adi forming a company formally registered as adidas AG in 1949. Although it is a popular urban myth that the name is an acronym for All Day I Dream About Sports; in reality the name is actually formed from combining "Adi" (a nickname for Adolf) and "Das" (from Dassler).

In 1997, adidas AG acquired the Salomon Group, which specialized in ski equipment and apparel, and its official corporate name was changed to adidas-Salomon AG.

In 2004, top English fashion designer Stella McCartney launched a joint-venture line with adidas, establishing a long-term partnership with the company. Her sports performance collection for women "adidas by Stella McCartney" has continued to receive critical acclaim.

In 2006, adidas announced an 11-year deal to become the official NBA clothing provider. The acquisition of Reebok that same year has allowed adidas to be further competitive on the world sports stage. As they state in their online company profile: "Your success is our ambition. Your defeat spurs us on to be better". And this is exactly what adidas strives to achieve through its products; to help athletes and sports enthusiasts perform better; play better, and feel better. Its products break records, set trends, and make history.

adidas’ Sport Performance Division focuses on innovation and technology. It prides itself on being a multi-sport specialist, catering to events such as the FIFA World Cup or The Olympic Games, but also to regular sport enthusiasts who simply play, watch, enjoy and celebrate sport. By the same token, the sub-brand adidas Originals Collection does just this, by taking things from the 'courts' to the 'streets', as celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Rihanna or Katy Perry have showcased.

Ultimately, peak performance is the object of adidas’ game, by making its clients perform faster, stronger, smarter and cooler.