On July 3, 1884, Dow Jones & Company published its first stock average index. The inaugural index was published as part of the "Customer's Afternoon Letter" and consisted of 11 stocks, nine of which were railroad stocks, since railroads were considered the largest and sturdiest companies in the U.S. at the time. Today, many consider that initial index to be the first publication of the Dow Jones Transportation Average.
Founded in 1882 by Charles Dow, Edward Jones and Charles Bergstresser, Dow Jones & Company's mandate was to provide easy-to-understand stock averages for the everyday investor. Beginning with the first index in 1884, Dow Jones published the now well known Dow Jones Industrial Average, commonly referred to as "The Dow" in 1896. The Dow consists of 30 of the most significant stocks in the U.S. and is one of the most widely used indices on Wall Street.
Dow Jones also is responsible for the publication of "The Wall Street Journal," which is one of the most influential daily newspapers in the world. In 1997 Dow Jones & Company was the target of a takeover bid by News Corporation, and today acts as a subsidiary of the global media conglomerate. (To learn more, read Why The Dow Matters.)