Much to the surprise of many, the world did not end on Jan. 1, 1000. And for the next 1,000 years humanity kept busy discovering new corners of the world, fighting among itself, inventing things, and finding new ways to make money.
1000 World does not end, contrary to predictions by Catholic church officials. Good for business, good for organized religion.
1086 Domesday Book, one of the greatest bureaucratic projects in history, catalogues property ownership throughout England. Nobody knows why the information was collected or how the book got its name.
1100 First Crusades begin (below) , sparking trade between Europe and Asia.
1211 First known account ledgers in Florence, Italy. Probably started to keep track of goods sold on credit.
1350 Black Death in Europe. Severe population declines raise demand for labor. Peasants who survive begin to move throughout Europe, their living standards on the rise.
1400 Economic growth begins in Europe this century and leads to gold-gathering missions in Africa. West African cities Jenne and Timbuktu emerge as centers of gold trade.
1400 Medici Bank in Florence becomes most important financial institution in Europe. Patron of the arts and learning, too.
1407 Casa de San Giorgio, among first public banks, funds long-term municipal debt for city of Genoa.
1492 Christopher Columbus (above right), Italian merchant financed by Spain, seeks India. Finds America instead.
1494 Double-entry bookkeeping -- in which each debit is recorded both as debit and future asset -- is popularized by Franciscan friar Luca Pacioli.
1520 Jakob Fugger, Europe's first international financier, bankrolls Charles V's election as Holy Roman emperor. At its peak, Fugger owns 25 branch offices as well as silver, gold, copper and mercury mines throughout Europe. His firm's capitalization is 10 times that of the Medici bank.
1531 Antwerp bourse -- French for purse -- opens in what is now Belgium "to the merchants of every nation or language."
1545 Spanish explorers discover silver mine in Potosi, Mexico, sparking an age of international trade. Spanish galleons begin to visit Mexican port of Acapulco; Chinese ships go to Spain to trade spices, silks and porcelain for Mexican silver.
1583 Earliest known life insurance policy is issued for William Gibbons, who died before the expiration of the one-year term.
1590 Dramatic increase in Europe's money supply -- thanks to silver discoveries in the New World -- leads to tripling of prices over the century.
1602 Dutch East India Co. founded to build ports in Southeast Asia.
1634 Tulipmania in Holland begins. Some economists today argue it made sense to trade a single tulip bulb for 12 acres. In 1637, bottom drops out of tulip market.
1636 Plymouth enacts pension law providing money to veterans disabled in the colony's defense against Indians. Other colonies follow suit.
1688 First-known reference to coffee house owned by Thomas Lloyd of Tower Street, London, appears in print. No one knows founding date of coffee shop where risk-sharing contracts for seafaring ventures are established. The coffee shop will become Lloyd's of London, London's largest market for insurance.
1690 Massachusetts becomes first American colony to issue fiat currency, paper money backed only by promise of payment through taxation.
1694 Bank of England opens, lending to the crown at low interest rates.
1720 South Sea Co. founded to refinance British government debt. It's supposed to get monopoly on trade with Spain, but doesn't turn profit. Instead, stock price bubbles -- due to insider trading and bribes, according to some historians -- leading to panic and financial disaster.
1752 Benjamin Franklin (above), who celebrated "miracle of compound interest," publishes "Poor Richard's Almanack."
1763 Barings Brothers & Co. founded. Initially manufactures serge cloth. Expands into import-export business. From there, short step to international finance.
1775 American Revolution, which lasts eight years, begins. First financial markets in the United States develop to trade in government debt and war bonds.
1776 Continental Congress passes nation's first pension law, granting veterans half pay for life in cases of serious disability. States must pay because Congress doesn't have authority or money to make payments.
1776 Adam Smith writes "The Wealth of Nations."
1789 Federal pension legislation passes, continuing the pension law passed by the Continental Congress.
1791 Presbyterian Church gives pensions to clerical widows, orphans; U.S. government awards pensions to war heroes, disabled veterans.
1792 Twenty-four brokers in New York sign Buttonwood Agreement, giving each other preference in trading, holding member-only auctions and setting fixed minimum commissions. Organized brokers grow into New York Stock Exchange. Gulf opens between members bound by agreement and New York's unregulated Curbstone Brokers.
1818 Congress gives fixed pensions to servicemen who served nine months during Revolutionary War.
1826 Stockbroker Nathaniel Prime establishes Prime Ward & King, generally thought to have been first U.S. investment bank.
1833 Congress authorizes establishment of Bureau of Pensions, part of the Department of War.
1834 British Superannuation Act establishes retirement benefits for civil servants.
1836 Congress creates non-service-connected pensions for widows of military veterans.
1837 Speculation on Western land values leads to financial panic.
1840 Unregulated Curbstone Brokers begin decade taking newly issued railroad securities, with little interest in reliability or availability of financial information on new companies.
1848 Eighty-two merchants and businessmen meet in a rented room over a flour store on South Water Street to found the Chicago Board of Trade.
1848 Gold strike in California.
1853 New York Stock Exchange establishes first disclosure requirements. Companies that can't comply must trade on Curb, the outdoor market.
1854 Britain's North Western Railway starts corporate pension plan for employees.
1857 Financial crisis triggers recession, which some historians say hastened the coming of the American Civil War.
1858 Congress authorizes half-pay pensions for veterans' widows and orphaned children under 16.
1861 American Civil War sparks major innovations in finance.
1862 Legal Tender Act permits Congress to print Treasury notes, or greenbacks, to pay for Civil War.
1863 Open Board of Stock Brokers competes with New York Stock Exchange. Civil War era is heyday for new exchanges.
1863 National Banking Act creates national currency, eliminates state-chartered bank notes and establishes national banks.
1867 Karl Marx (above) writes "Das Kapital."
1869 New York Stock Exchange and Open Board of Stock Brokers merge, adopt specialist system.
1874 First pension plan in North America offered by Canada's Grand Trunk Railway. Plan covers only white-collar employees.
1874 Chicago Produce Exchange organized. Later becomes Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
1875 American Express Co. starts first corporate U.S. pension plan. It is unfunded. Benefits paid only to employees who are injured or "worn out in service."
1879 U.S. returns to gold standard, repudiating wartime dalliance with paper money and ushering in 20 years of deflationary monetary policy.
1884 Charles Henry Dow publishes his first stock average -- based on 11 stocks, including nine railroads.
1890 30-year boom in pension plan establishment begins. Most involve limited benefits and restrictive rules.
1893 Panic in United States. Hundreds of banks fail. Country slumps into what was known until 1930s as Great Depression.
1895 Populist Party pressure for bimetallic standard sparks flow of gold out of United States. Anxious foreign investors fear devaluation. J.P. Morgan meets with President Grover Cleveland and teams up with Rothschilds to sell gold to U.S. Treasury.
1901 $1 billion U.S. Steel Corp. founded in turn-of-century merger wave, becoming first corporate behemoth. Founders include J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab and Elbert H. Gary.
1905 Andrew Carnegie starts U.S. Steel & Carnegie Pension Plan with $4 million from own pocket; it is established as a non-profit corporation in 1914.
1906 Western Electric creates one of the country's first corporate pension plans.
1907 "Rich man's panic" triggers short, sharp depression.
1909 John Moody publishes first ratings for bonds.
1912 J. Pierpont Morgan (above) testifies before House Banking and Currency Committee, also known as Pujo committee, investigating conspiracy to control economic activity. But Congress doesn't find a conspiracy, just a gentlemen's club. Morgan dies of heart attack a few weeks later, some say because of the shock of testifying.
1912 Sherwood Act awards pension to all veterans.
1913 Federal Reserve Act creates Federal Reserve.
1914 First World War, from which United States emerges in 1918 as lender to the world.
1915 Charles Lynch and Peter Merrill found Merrill Lynch & Co.
1920 Charles Ponzi's (right) most famous scheme collapses. He promised investors would see a 40% return on a 90-day loan to a fake firm. In reality, he paid off old investors with money from new investors.
1921 Curb market moves indoors, becoming New York Curb Market and setting membership fees at $1,500.
1924 Edward Laffer starts Massachusetts Investors Trust, credited with being first American mutual fund.
1928 Scudder Stevens & Clark opens first no-load mutual fund.
1929 Stock market crash in October leads to Great Depression.
1932 Dow bottoms out at 45.44, down 85% from 1929 peak.
1932 Pecora Investigation of Wall Street begins. President Herbert Hoover (left) believes Depression due to small group of Wall Street bears holding stock prices down for their advantage. He's wrong, but Senate Banking Committee investigation uncovers all manner of chicanery.
1933 Securities and Exchange Commission established.
1933Glass-Steagall Act creates Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
1934 Columbia University finance professor Benjamin Graham and colleague David Dodd publish classic textbook on investing, "Security Analysis."
1935 Banking Act of 1935, gives Fed board of governors power to adjust reserve requirements for member banks and to order banks to alter rates.
1935 Social Security Act passes Congress.
1936 John Maynard Keynes publishes "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money."
1940 Investment Company Act requires investment banks and brokerages to register with SEC and disclose detailed financial information.
1940 General Motors establishes contributory pension plan for salaried workers earning more than $250 per month.
1944 Bretton Woods international conference -- held during World War II -- establishes fixed exchange rates pegged to dollar, and establishes International Monetary Fund and World Bank, envisioning a post-war world.
1948 National Labor Relations Board rules pensions negotiable between unions and employers. Plans growth explodes.
1952 Harry Markowitz (above) publishes "Portfolio Selection" in the Journal of Finance, giving method to overtly recognized risk in investment decision making.
1953 New York Curb Market renamed American Stock Exchange.
1959 New Jersey allows insurance companies to offer variable annuities and separate accounts investing in common stocks -- but only to pension funds. Other states follow.
1961 SEC rules insider trading illegal.
1964 William F. Sharpe produces Capital Asset Pricing Model, which says the single underlying factor connecting prices of all securities is the stock market itself. He also introduces "beta" as measure of risk.
1965 Nine years after starting his first investment partnership, Warren Buffett acquires floundering New England textile company Berkshire Hathaway, which becomes his investment vehicle as he becomes one of the century's most successful investors.
1965 Eugene Fama lays foundation for later development of index funds with paper concluding that stock prices aren't predictable, but that markets are efficient.
1971 U.S. balance-of-payments deficit rises abruptly. President Nixon ends convertibility of dollar for gold at $35 an ounce. Two years later, Bretton Woods system discarded in favor of floating exchange rates.
1971 NASDAQ automated dealing system opens.
1973 Fischer Black and Myron Scholes publish paper on options pricing theory, neatly dovetailing with opening of Chicago Board Options Exchange.
1974 Commodity Futures Trading Commission established to regulate booming commodity markets.
1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act, comprehensive pension reform legislation, becomes law.
1975 Bear market has wiped out 60% of value of S&P 500 since 1973.
1975 Fixed brokerage commissions abolished.
1977 Drexel Burnham Lambert starts underwriting junk bonds, practically inventing new investment category.
1977 Peter Lynch takes charge of Fidelity's Magellan Fund.
1979 Interest rates go through roof during Paul Volcker's tenure at Fed, prompting sharp recession and 10% unemployment.
1980 Hunt brothers of Texas drive silver prices to the moon in ill-fated attempt to corner world silver market.
1982 Garn-St. Germain Act deregulates thrifts, paving way for savings and loan crisis.
1982 Mexico suspends payments on its foreign debt, beginning Third World debt crisis.
1986 Ivan Boesky pleads guilty to insider trading, pays $100 million fine.
1987 Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., which insures thrifts, declared insolvent. Taxpayer-financed bailout of S&Ls begins.
1987 Alan Greenspan becomes the 13th chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Let the good times roll.
1987 Stock market falls 23% Oct. 19, largest one-day decline ever.
1989 Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. completes $25 billion LBO of RJR Nabisco Inc.
1988 Michael Milken, head of junk bonds at Drexel Burnham Lambert, pleads guilty to insider trading. He's fired. Company pays massive fine, goes bankrupt two years later.
1991 Maastricht Treaty establishes timetable for European monetary union.
1994 Orange County, Calif., goes bankrupt using excessive leverage.
1995 Venerable Barings Bank goes under, thanks to risky dealings of a single 27-year-old trader, Nick Leeson.
1997 Asian Tiger roars no more.
1998 Long Term Capital Management LP finds itself long on theory and short on cash, nearly going belly-up.
1998 Warren Buffett buys nearly 20% of world's silver supply.
1999 Euro starts to trade in Europe (right).
1999 Dow hits 11,000 mark.