One of the oldest major U.S. stock markets, the American Stock Exchange is steeped in history, and can follow its roots all the way back to colonial America. However, it wasn't until 1929 when it changed its name from the New York Curb Exchange that it became the stock market that it's known as today, or AMEX for short (although it shouldn't be confused with the nickname for the American Express credit card).
One of the things that AMEX is famous for, is the introduction of the wild hand signals that the general public recognize in stock brokers. This came about during its time as the New York Curb Exchange, when the brokers used to trade outdoors. When the weather was particularly bad, brokers had to shout to make themselves audible above the winds. Since this was often more difficult than not, hand signals were invented, and they're still used to this day, even inside the larger stock exchange buildings and floors of Wall Street.
American stock exchange actually merged with one of its biggest rivals, NASDAQ, back in 1998, although the merger was short-lived, more due to the petty feuds between the two different sets of brokers. Following one too many disagreements, AMEX actually bought the NASD and has been a separate entity since 2004.
Although it doesn't have as many companies as its former partner, AMEX does have some of the most influential and biggest companies instead - it can count the likes of British American Tobacco, Imperial Oil Limited and Seaboard Corporation are just three of its bigger companies. And when you consider the prices of these stocks, you can see that AMEX certainly has the ears of the big boys.
Even though in January 2008, Amex was acquired by NYSE Euronext and the exchange was re-branded as the NYSE Amex Equities.
NASDAQ: The National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation system, better known as NASDAQ, was the first electronc stock market in the world.