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History of Our Firm
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is one of the world's oldest, largest and best-known financial institutions.
The firm is built on the foundation of more than 1,200 predecessor institutions that have come together through the years to form today's company.
We trace our roots to 1799 in New York City, and our many well-known heritage firms include J.P. Morgan & Co., The Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank One, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., Chemical Bank, The First National Bank of Chicago, National Bank of Detroit, The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., Robert Fleming Holdings, Cazenove Group and the business acquired in the Washington Mutual transaction. Each of these firms, in its time, was closely tied to innovations in finance and the growth of the U.S. and global economies.
Explore the timeline below and visit our video library to learn more about the firm’s history.
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Steven: Technology has revolutionized how bankers and consumers handle money in amounts ranging from the single penny to billions of dollars. Early banks, including those that would become part of JPMorgan Chase, added up dollars and cents by hand, a time consuming task that left a lot of room for error. Over the years, JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors pioneered technologies that saved money and dramatically increased the speed at which bank work could be accomplished. Around the turn of the 20th century, even simple advances improved the employee and customer experience. The hand cranked adding machine of the 1890s did the work of two people. The direct dial phone eliminated the need for a switchboard, while the electric coin counting machine tallied with accuracy and was up to five times faster than counting by hand. In the 1920s, check processing, the backbone of personal banking, was greatly improved with the Recordak. Bank employees used the machine to process large volumes of checks entering the bank by photographing them, saving hours of work a day, and guarding against forgery. But it was the introduction of the electronic computer in the 1950s that revolutionized banking, propelling the industry forward at an unprecedented pace. Computers quickly became a staple in back offices across the country, and many of our predecessor banks built entire data processing centers devoted to the new technology. In 1959, Chase Manhattan Bank installed an IBM 650 computer, which enabled the staff to process transactions at lightning speed. A few years later, Chase Manhattan opened its New York Automated Check Processing Center, one of the largest in the world. Relying on new computer technology, employees processed checks using a high speed sorter that could read magnetic ink characters. Within the first year, it was processing over a million checks per day. As computerization spread across the country, so too did the bank credit card, which transformed America's shopping habits. Now, instead of opening individual charge accounts with each store, bank clients could use one card for their purchases at any store. In 1969, Chemical Bank unveiled its cash machine, the precursor to the ATM. The ATM, the Automated Teller Machine, made banking on the go possible with the swipe of a card. ATMs appeared in malls, airports and overseas, making it possible to get cash and perform transactions 24 hours a day. The trend for banking whenever, wherever and however you'd like continued. With Bank One's Channel 2000, an early home computer banking program launched in 1980, customers could bank without ever leaving the house. The internet brought banking at home into the 21st century, allowing customers to complete transactions securely online through personal computers, while mobile apps like Chase Pay meant banking could be done with the swipe of a finger on a phone, tablet or watch from anywhere in the world. JPMorgan Chase has come a long way, from bankers computing numbers by hand to a global team of technologists working hard to keep us ahead of the curve. Behind the scenes, the firm is developing new technologies, deploying artificial intelligence and working in the cloud to advance the financial landscape. This culture of innovation is helping employees work smarter, and customers bank better, every day.
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Virginia: Hi, I'm Virginia, one of the archivists with the JPMorgan Chase Corporate History Program. We are responsible for preserving the history of the firm and its predecessor institutions, over 1200 of them. The firm today is a result of many bank mergers and acquisitions over the years, and is built on the legacy of those predecessor banks. Our valuable collection tells the story of JPMorgan Chase and will preserve our history for future generations to come. Let's take a look around. This is our climate controlled storage facility, a cool enough environment to prevent paper deterioration and mold growth. We collect and preserve everything, from documents to photos, to artifacts and artwork. We use that material to answer questions about the history of the firm and to better understand its business, past and present, around the world. Our department was founded by David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, who understood that a bank's wealth is measured in more than just dollars and cents. From financing the US rail system to pioneering the ATM, our banks were vitally important. These stories can be told through what's found on these shelves and in the exhibits we design in corporate offices around the world. Our collection is constantly growing. In here, we maintain millions of records. That's over three miles of boxes. Items come from branches, employees, and alumni of the firm. We catalog them and integrate them into the larger collection. Elizabeth: Some of my favorite objects are scrapbooks. This one was from the Garfield Safe Deposit Company in New York. It was put together by an employee who was at the bank for over 40 years and he clipped all sorts of things - bank promotional items, forms, envelopes, really anything he thought would help tell the story of this bank's history. Virginia: Photographs are among the most requested items. We have over a million, many of which are stored in these filing cabinets. The images portray everything, from bank interiors and exteriors to employee activities. These drawers over here are filled with advertisements, posters, and oversized photos. Steven: I love this collection of architectural renderings from the Valley National Bank, which was headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. They're not only wonderful paintings, but they're an interesting view into what commercial bank architecture looked like during the 1950s. In fact, Valley National Bank had the only bank branch in the Grand Canyon. Virginia: These shelves are where things like artwork, artifacts, and ephemera have their own special home. From 19th century coin counters to 20th century teller cages, the artifacts we preserve help us to bring to life all aspects of banking. Rachel: Our firm started not as a bank, but actually as a water company. This is one of the original hollowed out wooden pipes that was used to transport water to the homes and businesses of Lower Manhattan. We've carefully preserved it, and our hope is that'll last for another 200 plus years. Virginia: Our legacy defines us, and it's through these items that we share stories of our firm and its tremendous impact on not just the financial industry, but the world at large.