Ticker tape

Watching the ticker tape, 1918

Ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium, transmitting stock price information over telegraph lines, in use between around 1870 through 1970. It consisted of a paper strip that ran through a machine called a stock ticker, which printed abbreviated company names as alphabetic symbols followed by numeric stock transaction price and volume information. The term "ticker" came from the sound made by the machine as it printed.

Paper ticker tape became obsolete in the 1960s, as television and computers were increasingly used to transmit financial information. The concept of the stock ticker lives on, however, in the scrolling electronic tickers seen on brokerage walls and on news and financial television channels.

Ticker tape stock price telegraphs were invented in 1867 by Edward A. Calahan, an employee of the American Telegraph Company. [1]


Although telegraphic printing systems were first invented by Royal Earl House in 1846, early models were fragile, required hand-cranked power, frequently went out of synchronization between sender and receiver, and did not become popular in widespread commercial use. David E. Hughes improved the printing telegraph design with clockwork weight power in 1856, [2] and his design was further improved and became viable for commercial use when George M. Phelps devised a resynchronization system in 1858. [3] The first stock price ticker system using a telegraphic printer was invented by Edward A. Calahan in 1863; he unveiled his device in New York City on November 15, 1867. [4] [5] [6] Early versions of stock tickers provided the first mechanical means of conveying stock prices ("quotes"), over a long distance over telegraph wiring. In its infancy, the ticker used the same symbols as Morse code as a medium for conveying messages. One of the earliest practical stock ticker machines, the Universal Stock Ticker developed by Thomas Edison in 1869, used alphanumeric characters with a printing speed of approximately one character per second.

Previously, stock prices had been hand-delivered via written or verbal messages. Since the useful time-span of individual quotes is very brief, they generally had not been sent long distances; aggregated summaries, typically for one day, were sent instead. The increase in speed provided by the ticker allowed for faster and more exact sales. Since the ticker ran continuously, updates to a stock's price whenever the price changed became effective much faster and trading became a more time-sensitive matter. For the first time, trades were being done in what is now thought of as near real-time.

Edison gold & stock ticker

By the 1880s, there were about a thousand stock tickers installed in the offices of New York bankers and brokers. In 1890, members of the exchange agreed to create the New York Quotation Co., buying up all other ticker companies to ensure accuracy of reporting of price and volume activity. [7]

Other Languages
Esperanto: Telegrafa papero
עברית: פסנוע
українська: Тікерний апарат
Winaray: Ticker tape