Stock market history / Timeline


The first speculative bubble in history bursts.
What was the subject of speculation? Tulip bulbs!

La première bulle spéculative de l’histoire éclate

Tulip bulbs!


Steam engines are set to change the world, though at that time people were not yet aware of this.
This will still need a bit more time. Yet in 1712, i.e. more than a century before the inauguration of the first railway between Brussels and Mechelen (1835), a steam engine developed by Newcomen and Savery began pumping water out of a coal mine in Dudley (England).

Steam engines

Steam engines


William Pitt the Younger decides to adopt a “laisser faire, laisser passer” policy.

The first economic theories emerged in France around 1750, centred on the famous “laisser faire, laisser passer” principle. These were taken up in England by Adam Smith, one of the founders of free market economic theory, and put into practice by the British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger (24 years old).

Portrait of William Pitt

Portrait of William Pitt
The telegraph


The dollar becomes the official currency of the United States, replacing the pound sterling.


Claude Chappe invents the telegraph, becoming the world’s first telecom entrepreneur.


Punched cards set off a revolution

Who invented the barrel organ? Though this is quite an enigma, punched cards themselves date back to the late 17th century. When Frenchman Joseph Marie Jacquard started using them in weaving looms, he sparked off a revolt among workers. This was to be the first example of a conflict between technological progress and employment.

Punched cards set off a revolution

Punched cards set off a revolution


Rothschild is the first to learn of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. He makes a fortune on the stock market.


Michael Faraday is the first person to exploit electromagnetic rotation, designing the world’s first electric motor.


The first World Exhibition is held in London’s Crystal Palace

A cast-iron, wood and plate-glass building, the Crystal Palace was erected in Hyde Park to host the Great Exhibition, the first world exhibition. It was dismantled and rebuilt in an enlarged form in South London, only to be destroyed by fire in 1936.

The first World Exhibition is held in London’s Crystal Palace


Agricultural surpluses lead to a sharp drop in prices, causing the first Wall Street crash.

Agricultural surpluses lead to a sharp drop in prices, causing the first Wall Street crash

Agricultural surpluses lead to a sharp drop in prices, causing the first Wall Street crash.


Edwin Drake sparks off the black gold rush.

Though we cannot be sure that Edwin Drake was the first to successfully drill for oil, we do know that he was the first to do so in the United States, gaining such a reputation that he sparked off an oil drilling rush in Pennsylvania. At that time, oil was only used for lighting.

Edwyn Drake

Edwyn Drake


After twenty years of work, Karl Marx publishes the first volume of his “Capital”.


Heinrich Hertz discovers electromagnetic waves.

Curious but true! When German physicist Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of electromagnetic waves, he did not realize their practical importance. But where would we be today without Hertzian waves? There would be no wireless communication, i.e. no telephone, no TV and no Internet.

Heinrich Hertz discovers electromagnetic waves

Heinrich Hertz discovers electromagnetic waves.


A number of scientists are saying that this was the first year that CO2 emissions started rising.


Clément Ader becomes the first person to fly something heavier than air. But his steam-driven flying machine crashes.


The first Model T leaves Henry Ford’s Piquette Avenue factory

Henry Ford a construit la première ligne d’assemblage automobile au monde à Piquette Avenue à Detroit. Le principe était simple : assembler des pièces préparées à l’avance pour fabriquer en masse et à bas prix. La Ford T – celle de Tintin au Congo – a été produite jusqu’en 1927.

The first Model T leaves Henry Ford’s Piquette Avenue factory


Hyperinflation in Germany. Banknotes with denominations of 5, 20 and even 50 billion marks exist.


John Logie Baird becomes the first person to reproduce a picture on a screen. He gives his invention the name “televisor”.




Archibald Huntsman discovers how to fast-freeze fish. He also invents refrigerated vehicles.


The first computer is 30 metres long, weighs 30 tonnes and uses 18,000 radio tubes. Its name? ENIAC, standing for “Electronic Numerical Integrator Analyser and Computer”.  Over time, only the last word was kept on: “computer”. Constructed at the University of Pennsylvania (where it can still be seen), it was very slow, performing just 100,000 additions per second.

The first computer


Bell Telephone produces the first transistor, sparking off the development of integrated circuits.


Spoutnik 1 is put into orbit around the Earth. It is the first man-made satellite.


The forerunner of the Internet was called ARPANET.

Arpanet? Internet? As you can see, both names include the word “net”. The US Army developed Arpanet, a system for transmitting data, to coordinate the activities of its famed Strategic Air Command. These days, running a stock market without Internet is just inconceivable.
The forerunner of the Internet was called ARPANET.


Intel produces the first microprocessor, opening the door to personal computing.


The first oil shock. Since then, we have been through several oil crises.

For the first time, the Middle East conflict was to have enormous economic consequences. The dramatic rise in oil prices (from 3 to 12 dollars a barrel) sparked off the first oil crisis, only to be followed by a second one in 1978-1981 and a third one in 2005-2008. Since 1973, crude oil prices have fluctuated between 3 and 140 dollars a barrel.

The first oil shock

The first oil shock


The first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, is born on 25 July following conception by in vitro fertilisation.


Global warming becomes worrying. The 1st Climate Conference is held in Geneva.


The first stock market bubble – involving hi-tech companies

This was the time the first website was created in Europe. A wave of start-ups ensued, with thousands of new companies being set up. Computer games and the famous Playstation swept the market. And it wasn’t just the IT sector. Biotech start-ups also started springing up like mushrooms. Only to quickly collapse on the stock market.

The first stock market bubble


The genome, the genetic material of a human being, is “sequenced”, i.e. presented in a linear manner.


The sheep Dolly is born on a farm in England. It is the first animal to be cloned.


Stock market crash on Wall Street, in Latin America and Asia. It is not to be the last one.


Our lives are changed by the introduction of the Euro.

Aznavour was to sing: “Je vous parle d’un temps que les moins de 20 ans ne peuvent pas connaître”. Everybody over the age of 20 consciously experienced the change of currency in 2002, something that happens just once in a lifetime. The introduction of the Euro has changed everything: price calculations, comparisons with neighbouring countries … and has made travelling abroad a lot easier.

Our lives are changed by the introduction of the Euro.

And After…

If we chose to stop time in 2002, it’s not because nothing has happened since then … But we leave to future historians the task of capturing these events.

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