The first publicly-traded stock was the Dutch East India Company, which debuted on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1602.
In the U.S., investors began trading stocks on May 17, 1792, when 24 New York City stockbrokers and merchants gathered under a Buttonwood tree outside of 68 Wall Street to form the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). There were just five publicly-traded securities at the time, with the Bank of New York being the very first listed company.
Today, there are some 79 major stock exchanges around the world—dominated by the NYSE, which accounts for about 40% of the total market value in the world.
The purpose of stock markets remains the same: to raise capital for businesses. In turn, both individual and institutional investors have the opportunity to invest their monies and make profits as companies grow.
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