Thirty years ago, State Street Global Advisors (STT  ) launched the first ever U.S.-listed exchange-traded fund (ETF), ushering in a new era of low-cost investing. Now, the industry offers a wide array of trading options in nearly every theme or strategy imaginable.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY  ) gave investors the ability to buy and sell hundreds of stocks on the U.S. market benchmark through a single share. Since its inception, SPY has grown to be the largest ETF with more than $335 billion in assets and average a daily trading volume of $39 billion, according to State Street.

To further illustrate SPY's success, the 500-stock-benchmark-tracking ETF was trading three times more than Apple (AAPL  )--the largest stock in the world at a nearly $2.3 billion market cap--towards the end of 2022.

"Born out of the stock market crash of 1987, SPY has demonstrated its resilience throughout major market events from the burst of the dot-com bubble to the global financial crisis of 2008, and more recently, the extreme pandemic-era volatility," said Rory Tobin, head of State Street Global Advisors' Global SPDR ETF Business, in a press statement.

SPY's success has also birthed an entire industry, with the broader U.S.-listed ETF offerings amassing $6.5 billion since its launch.

But SPY isn't the only major player in the game, with the industry growing other dominating asset managers like BlackRock (BLK  ) and Vanguard. BlackRock is the top provider of ETFs with over $10 trillion in assets under management, while Vanguard has continues to expand its business from low-cost mutual funds to low-cost ETFs.

"In the ETF industry it's BlackRock and Vanguard, and those two are going to rule the land like King Kong and Godzilla unless regulators intervene," said Eric Balchunas, senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg, quoted by Investopedia.

SPY's success and the overall ETF industry has also made a positive impact on investors, with many traders viewing ETFs as a good investment choice, whether they themselves invest in one or not, according to a State Street ETF Impact Survey.

More than two-third of global investors surveyed agreed that having ETFs as part of their investment portfolio has improved their overall performance and the majority believe ETFs have made them better investors, according to the survey.

And the industry still has more room to grow, both globally and in the United States. Just 40% of U.S. investors surveyed say they one an ETF, compared to 83% trading stocks, 67% investing in mutual funds, and 53% holding bonds. Global investors seem more eager to invest in ETFs as well, with 50% of investors globally saying they will invest in ETFs in the next 12 months, When asked if they plan to invest in ETFs in the next 12 months, compared to 37% in the U.S.