Today's Dow is a lot different from just 20 years ago

How the Dow got to 19,000
How the Dow got to 19,000

With the Dow approaching (but still below) 20,000, I thought it might be fun to stroll down memory lane and look at just how much this venerable index (well, technically it's an average) of 30 stocks has changed since my career began more than 20 years ago.

My first job as a financial journalist just out of college was at a magazine that no longer exists called Financial World, or FW, for short. That was June 1995.

Nearly half of the companies that were Dow components back then are no longer in the Dow. Some don't even exist anymore. Here's a look at what happened to them.

1. AlliedSignal merged with Honeywell (HON) in 1999 and changed its name to Honeywell -- which was removed from the Dow in 2008.

2. Alcoa (AA) -- or Aluminum Company of America as it was known until formally changing its name in 1999 -- got kicked like an aluminum can out of the Dow in 2013. It was replaced by Nike (NKE).

3. AT&T (T) could wind up becoming my new boss if its deal to buy CNN owner Time Warner (TWX) passes regulatory muster. But it's no longer a Dow stock.

Baby Bell Verizon (VZ) replaced AT&T in 2004. A year later, another Baby Bell (and Dow component) SBC bought its former parent and renamed itself AT&T. But the Dow hung up on AT&T again in 2015 and replaced it with Apple (AAPL).

4. Bethlehem Steel was removed from the Dow in 1997 and went bankrupt in 2001. Needless to say, there are no more steel companies in the Dow.

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5. Eastman Kodak (KODK) disappeared from the Dow like a faded photograph in 2004. It also went bankrupt but it has reemerged as a slimmer and more digitally-focused company.

6. It's almost inconceivable to imagine the Dow without General Motors (GM) in it. GM was added to the Dow in 1925, but it was removed in 2009 following its bankruptcy filing and was replaced by Cisco Systems (CSCO).

7. 1999 was not a good year for Goodyear (GT). That's when the company famous for its tires and blimp was kicked out of the Dow.

8. International Paper (IP)has actually been removed from the Dow twice. The most recent time was in 2004, ending a 48-year stay in the index. But IP's preferred shares made an appearance in the Dow in 1901 -- for just a few months before being kicked out.

9. Philip Morris changed its name to Altria (MO) in 2004. But Altria's status as a Dow component went up in smoke in 2008.

10. Sears (SHLD) still exists. But the perennially money-losing retailer -- which also owns Rain Man's least favorite store Kmart -- is a shell of its former self. Sears Roebuck left the Dow in 1999 after a 75-year stay in the index.

11. Texaco is now part of Chevron (CVX), which is also in the Dow. Texaco was removed in 1997. And Chevron actually got kicked out of the Dow too in 1999 -- before Chevron and Texaco merged. Chevron was added back in 2008. Whew. Get it? Got it? Good.

12. Union Carbide was bought in 1999 by Dow Chemical (DOW) -- which, despite having Dow in its name and a ticker symbol of DOW, is not in the Dow.

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13. Westinghouse Electric merged with TV giant CBS (CBS) in 1995. The company changed its name to CBS in 1997 -- and was thusly removed from the Dow. The remainder of Westinghouse is now owned by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba.

14. Millennials may not remember Woolworth, the five-and-dime icon that was once one of America's most popular retailers. Woolworth, which had the super cool ticker symbol of Z, closed all its stores in 1997 and was removed from the Dow that year.

But Woolworth still lives on -- sort of. Woolworth also owned some other retail chains. It renamed itself as Venator and later changed the name again to a little company you may have heard of called Foot Locker (FL).

Several other Dow stocks have come and gone during the past two decades.

AIG (AIG) was added in 2004 and kicked out in September 2008 after it almost imploded during the financial crisis and required a massive government bailout.

Kraft (KHC) (which is now Kraft Heinz) replaced AIG -- only to be removed in 2012 after the company split into two. UnitedHealth (UNH) replaced it.

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Travelers Group changed its name to Citigroup in 1999 following their merger. Citi (C) got kicked out of the Dow in 2009, and was replaced by Travelers (TRV) -- which used to be part of Citi and was spun out in 2002. Whew again!

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Bank of America (BAC) were added to the Dow in 1997 and 2008 respectively. And both were shown the Dow door in 2013.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Home Depot (HD), Pfizer (PFE), Visa (V), Goldman Sachs (GS), Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC) and Walmart (WMT) are all relative Dow newbies too.

So who might be joining the Dow in the next few decades? Facebook (FB)? Google (GOOGL)? Amazon (AMZN)? Mega-unicorns like Uber and Airbnb that are still private? And what Dow components would they potentially replace?

Heck, there could be companies that don't even exist yet which could be Dow components in 2036. So it will be interesting to see just how high (or low for you bears) the Dow will be two decades from now.

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