February 8, 2007

Dow Jones

And the men behind the brand are...
Charles Dow and Edward Jones

Charles H. Dow and Edward D. Jones were reporters digging up stories in Providence, Rhode Island for the Evening Press while looking for a way to advance their careers to New York City. Dow left first, landing as a job reporting on mining stocks in 1880. Dow worked in the Stock Exchange scribbling shorthand notes on the cuffs of his shirt.

Financial news in those days went largely unreported save for sporadic reports from the office of the John J. Kiernan News Agency. The financial bulletins, known as "flimsies" because of the thin paper on which they were printed, were delivered by messenger boys. Dow soon went to work for Kiernan and summoned his friend Jones to join him in the business.

By the fall of 1882 as their contacts increased the two men developed their own ideas of how financial news should be reported and left to form Dow Jones & Co. in a basement at 15 Wall Street, next door to the Exchange. Dow and another Kiernan man, Charles M. Bergstresser, were reporters who brought the day's news back to Jones at the desk. Jones wrote the stories on agateware stencils and the copies were dispatched to clients by messenger. They called their paper the "Customers Afternoon Letter."

By 1887 hand-writing bulletins was too slow to keep up with the increasing demand for timely financial news. A hand-cranked revolving cylinder began churning out the letter on 5" x 9" pieces of paper. On July 8, 1889 the letter became The Wall Street Journal, a four-page afternoon daily replacing the letter, although printed bulletins remained part of the business until 1948.

An out-of-town correspondent, Clarence W. Barron, joined the paper to contribute news from the Boston financial district. A ponderous "ticker" was developed in 1897 to provide instantaneous news. Dow Jones leased the machines which had to be hand-wound every half-hour but ushered in the information age.

A morning edition of the paper was added in 1898 and Jones retired the following year at the age of 43. In 1902 Dow sold the remainder of the business to C.W. Barron. Dow and Jones passed from the public eye but not before they stamped their names permanently on the financial community.

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