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8 Cool Facts About the Stock Market

Online stock trading is the latest evolution of the stock market you know today. Markets have undergone many changes over the decades of their existence, but its roots go back as far as the 16th century, if you consider the Belgium exchange, or the 14th century in Venice. We look at eight of the most interesting facts about stock markets in this article.

1. Oldest Stock Market: Although merchants of Venice, markets in India and other areas of the world had people selling, buying and trading loans and debt issues on the streets, the title of first stock trading market belongs to Amsterdam. In 1602, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange was started by the Dutch East India Company. It's now known as Euronext Amsterdam.

2. The Big Board: This is the nickname of the New York Stock Exchange. The NYSE is the biggest stock exchange in the world, and the largest in the United States. The market opened for the first time in 1792.

3. Ticker Tapes: Before you could trade stocks online or see which stocks and securities were trading in real time on TV, your computer or mobile phone, brokers relied on stock ticker tapes, which printed out stock price information that was transmitted over telegraph lines. The ticking sound as the paper printed is how it earned its name.

4. The Curb: The American Stock Exchange first started in New York in 1790, but it didn't earn its nickname of "The Curb" until the 19th century. Business was conducted in the streets of New York and those traders became known as "curbstone brokers."

5. The October Effect: Whether it's coincidence or not, investors and brokers get nervous in the month of October because the worst stock market crashes occurred during this time.

On October 29, 1929, the first devastating stock market crash occurred. Stocks plummeted 25 percent over a few days, sending investors into a panic. It began with the London Stock Exchange crash the month before, and continued with a volatile market and frantic selling of stocks. This led to the Great Depression of the 1930s, which lasted a decade.

On Monday, October 19, 1987, the world markets began crashing and by the end of the month, markets had dropped huge percentage points – almost 46 percent in Hong Kong, more than 26 percent in the United Kingdom and nearly 23 percent in the United States. Additionally, markets dropped in 2002 and 2008 as well.

6. Stock Market Movies: The stock market is a good stage setting for drama, so it comes as no surprise that Hollywood has produced numerous films about the exchange. Some of the movies are as flimsy as the film they were shot on, but a handful tell true-to-life stories of fortunes and failures. Check out The Big Short, Too Big to Fail and The Wolf of Wall Street.

7. Opening Bell: Since 1903, the start of every day's trading session on the NYSE starts with the ringing of an actual bell at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Originally, the signal was a gavel, and then a gong. Many high-profile people have been invited to participate in the tradition of ringing the opening bell, including singer Usher, former President Ronald Reagan, actor Robert Downey, Jr., firefighters and Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

8. Blue Chips: This prestigious nickname is reserved for companies that are nationally known and trade high on the stock market. The name is derived from the highest value poker chip, which is blue. Companies considered "blue chips" include General Mills, the Kellogg Company, IBM and Johnson & Johnson.

From stone tablets etched with loan information to electronic trades made in a matter of seconds, stock markets have come a long way. And they'll continue evolving, along with the way you invest.