An oversimplified, way too short and utterly incomplete history of…

The Reuters News Agency

  • Paul Julius Reuter (July 1816 - February 1899) (hey, that wasn't even his real name! His name was Israel Beer Josaphat, but he changed it later. After all, Reuter does sound rather catchier, now doesn't it?)
  • Reuter had several failed attempts at starting his own business, including co-owning a bookstore, and having a small printers' office
  • 1848: Reuter was employed by Havas (Havas was the first european news agency - it later became AFP)
  • 1848: Reuter started his first newspaper in Paris, but failed in 1849 when the creditors came to get his printing equipment
  • 1849: Reuter started an office in Aachen (Germany) where he attended to the gap in the telegraph between Aachen and Brussels. By 1850, more than 200 pigeons were flying between the two cities to settle the information demands between them.
  • 1851: The gap in the telegraph was closed, and Reuter moved on to London. He started a news service, focusing especially on economic matters. (bourse / stock information and grain prices +++)
  • 1853: The Times (which was by far the largest newspaper in the UK at that time) wanted nothing to do with Reuter's services
  • 1854-56: The Times (w/ W.H Russell) had good coverage of the Crimean war, whereas Reuter had none.
  • 1858: Reuter had strongly expanded his service, and was now reporting "everything, everywhere" Offices were opened where there was a telegraph cable.
  • 1859: The term "newsflash" was introduced. Instead of waiting until all the information was available, the main characteristics of the news (i.e headlines and main facts) were published ASAP, with more in depth coverage following later. Reuter used this in his favor to beat his competition.
  • 1860: Expansion continues with news from China, India and Australia, along with better coverage from the Americas
  • 1861: The civil war breaks out in the USA - but news goes with the speed of steam ships. This spurs the development of the trans-Atlantic telegraph
  • 1865: 'Reuters Telegram Company' goes public and is registered as a limited company.
  • 1866: The trans-Atlantic telegraph lines are in place (ironically, just in time to have missed the civil war completely)
  • 1867: Reuter and his network handle between 13000 and 14000 telegraph messages every month (or about 450 a day, if you will)
  • 1869: The cartel is a fact. Reuters has exclusive rights to Australia, India, Japan, China, South Africa and Canada. They share rights to USA, Alaska and Eastern Europe with Havas.
  • 1878: Paul Julius Reuter retires at 61 due to failing health, but continues to attend strategic meetings until well into the 1890's.
  • 1923: Reuters pioneers the use of radio to transmit news internationally and starts a service of price quotations and exchange rates sent in Morse Code by long-wave radio to Europe.
  • 1939: Reuters moves to its current headquarters, 85 Fleet Street.
  • 1941: Reuters deflects pressure from the British government to serve British interests during the war by restructuring itself as a private company owned by the British provincial and national press. Reuters Trust is established to safeguard the independence of Reuters.
  • 1964: Reuters pioneers the use of computers to transmit financial data internationally with the launch of Stockmaster.
  • 1973: Reuter Monitor Money Rates Service launched - an electronic marketplace for Foreign Exchange. Major western industrialized countries abandoned fixed exchange rates.
  • 1980's - The years of Reuters. During the 80s, Reuters develops and expands strongly. From little more than 2000 employees in 1980 to more than 10,000 in 1989
  • During the 1980's, Reuters goes "back to its roots". When Reuters started off, it was as a finance / stock market information service. In the end of the 1980's, 90% of Reuter's income was through stock market and economic related information.
  • 1981: Reuter Monitor Dealing Service goes live - foreign currency dealers are able to conclude trades over video terminals.
  • 1989: Reuters first with the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (incidentally, Reuters was also first with news of it being built in 1961)
  • 1999: Reuters completes its euro currency conversion program, involving 4 billion changes affecting a quarter of a million financial instruments. Some 700 engineers, developers, data specialists and customer service staff worked 300 man-years on the project and cost £10 million.
  • 2000: Reuters announces major initiatives to exploit the Internet and open new markets, reinforced by Joint Ventures in communications, wireless delivery and investment research
  • 2001: Reuters announces plan to develop Reuters.Net -- a new open platform instant messaging service and contacts directory for the world's financial services industry - with Microsoft and 25 leading financial institutions.

Sources: (yes - I did use sources.. even someone with my imagination couldn't make up something like this)
READ, D. (1992) The Power of News: The History of Reuters. New York: Oxford University Press
KNIGHTLEY, P. (1978) The First Casualty. London: Quartet Books Limited
Reuters UK (2001) 150 years anniversary.


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