One of the earliest exchange-traded funds (ETF) families, iShares was expanded globally by owner Barclays, which later sold it to BlackRock. iShares, whose origins stretch back a dozen years, now cover almost every market-sector index in the U.S. and a wide range of international markets.
In 2007 and 2008, Barclays increased the visibility of iShares by becoming the first presenting sponsor of the U.S. touring shows of the Quebec-based acrobatic circus Cirque du Soleil. 
In June 2008, Barclays Global Investors announced the launch on the NASDAQ exchange of four new iShares ETFs tracking Chinese and global alternative-energy markets. The new Chinese ETF is based on the mid-cap/large-cap FTSE China Index, listed in Hong Kong, which holds around 90 'red-chip' shares. The three new global iShares offerings are compiled by Standard & Poors and track its global Clean Energy Index, Nuclear Energy Index and Timber & Forestry Index. IShares' global family of ETFs, the world's largest, now stands at 65 funds.
BGI launched the predecessor to iShares, WEBS (World Equity Benchmark Series) ETFs, in 1996 and later collapsed that brand into the iShares MSCI series in mid-2000. Since then BGI has expanded the popular index-based ETFs into 163 separate iShares funds in 12 different domestic and international sectors.
IShares are today traded on more than a dozen global exchanges, most notably the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and the NASDAQ exchange in the US. For derivatives traders, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) also lists several iShares products in its CBOE index options family of contracts, and the CME-CBOE electronic joint-venture exchange OneChicago trades futures on four iShares ETFs.
Examples of Products As Of July of 2008
- iShares Cohen & Steers Realty Majors Index Fund (ICF)
- iShares Dow Jones EPAC Select Dividend Index Fund (IDV)
- iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund (DVY)
- iShares Dow Jones Transportation Average Index Fund (IYT)
- iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods Sector Index Fund (IYK)
- iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Services Sector Index Fund (IYC)
- iShares S&P/TOPIX 150 Index Fund (ITF)
- BlackRock to Buy Barclays Fund Unit for $13.5 Billion. Bloomberg.
- Press Release. Cirque du Soleil.
- Barclays Global Investors Announces Launch of iShares Exchange Traded Funds that Offer Exposure to Alternative Energy and Broad Exposure to China. iShares.
- History. iShares.com.
- Active Index Investing. Google Books.
- iShares Products. iShares.com.