A Brief History of Securities Trading

The Internet is only one of a long line of technological innovations that have impacted the financial world. Read on to learn about some of the highlights.

Year Event
1792 On May 17, 1792, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is first organized, when 24 stockbrokers signed an agreement to trade with one another beneath a Buttonwood Tree outside of 68 Wall Street.
1844 The telegram was invented --- broadening market participation by allowing better communications with brokers and investors outside of New York City.
1866 The first trans-atlantic cable is completed. This provided instantaneous communication between Europe and New York.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell conducts successful tests of the telephone. Two years later the first one is installed on the NYSE floor.
1887 While it would take several more years for radio to be widely available, in 1887, Heinrich Hertz successfully sent and received radio waves.
1895 Building on the knowledge of Hertz and others, Guglielmo Marconi creates the first radio in April 1895.
1927 Philo Farnsworth files for his first patent for television technology on January 7, 1927 --- the official date that TV was invented.
1969 ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet begins operating.
1980 June 1, 1980, CNN, the world's first 24-hour global news and information television network, is launched. While not devoted to financial news, CNN provides investors more timely updates on financial news.
1982 E*TRADE is founded by Bill Porter as a service bureau, providing online quote and trading services to Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Quick & Riley.
1985 Charles Schwab offers its customers the ability to trade via a modem connection by using its Equalizer software.
1989 CNBC, the first 24-hour financial news network, is launched on April 17, 1989.
1992 NYSE celebrates its bicentennial anniversary.

E*TRADE Securities, Inc. begins offering online investing services through American Online and Compuserve.

1995 CNNfn, the network's financial news programming is launched on December 29, 1995. CNNfn is aired 6:00 - 12:00 weekdays, providing real-time stock quotes and coverage of the bond and commodities markets.
1996 E*TRADE's web site, www.etrade.com , is launched.

At least fifteen brokerage firms allow customers to buy and sell stocks electronically.

1999 December 1, 1999, Wall Street's dinosaur, Merrill Lynch, launches its online trading web site.

There are over 12 million online trading accounts in the United States alone.

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Note: Photos from The National Archives and Records Administration,
and The National Museum of American History.