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Ticker tape was the earliest electrical dedicated financial communications medium, transmitting
stock In finance, stock (also capital stock) consists of all the shares by which ownership of a corporation or company is divided.Longman Business English Dictionary: "stock - ''especially AmE'' one of the shares into which ownership of a compan ...
price information over
telegraph Telegraphy is the long-distance transmission of messages where the sender uses symbolic codes, known to the recipient, rather than a physical exchange of an object bearing the message. Thus flag semaphore is a method of telegraphy, whereas ...
lines, in use from 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. The ticker tape revolutionized financial markets, as it relayed information from trading floors continuously and simultaneously across geographical distances. 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 American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the "United States" or "America" ** Americans, citizens and nationals of the United States of America ** American ancestry, p ...
who later founded
The ADT Corporation ADT Inc., formerly The ADT Corporation, is an American company that provides residential, small and large business electronic security, fire protection, and other related alarm monitoring services throughout the United States. The corporate hea ...
.


History

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, and his design was further improved and became viable for commercial use when George M. Phelps devised a resynchronization system in 1858. 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. Early versions of stock tickers provided the first mechanical means of conveying stock prices ("quotes"), over a long distance via telegraph wiring. In its infancy, the ticker used the same symbols as
Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called ''dots'' and ''dashes'', or ''dits'' and ''dahs''. Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, one ...
as a medium for conveying messages. One of the earliest practical stock ticker machines, the Universal Stock Ticker developed by
Thomas Edison Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inven ...
in 1869, used
alphanumeric Alphanumericals or alphanumeric characters are a combination of alphabetical and numerical characters. More specifically, they are the collection of Latin letters and Arabic digits. An alphanumeric code is an identifier made of 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 Real-time computing (RTC) is the computer science term for hardware and software systems subject to a "real-time constraint", for example from event to system response. Real-time programs must guarantee response within specified time constra ...
. 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.


Technology

Stock ticker machines are an ancestor of the modern
computer printer In computing, a printer is a peripheral machine which makes a persistent representation of graphics or text, usually on paper. While most output is human-readable, bar code printers are an example of an expanded use for printers. Differ ...
, being one of the first applications of transmitting text over a wire to a printing device, based on the printing telegraph. This used the technology of the then-recently invented telegraph machines, with the advantage that the output was readable text, instead of the dots and dashes of
Morse code Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called ''dots'' and ''dashes'', or ''dits'' and ''dahs''. Morse code is named after Samuel Morse, one ...
. A special
typewriter A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical machine for typing characters. Typically, a typewriter has an array of keys, and each one causes a different single character to be produced on paper by striking an inked ribbon selecti ...
designed for operation over telegraph wires was used at the opposite end of the telegraph wire connection to the ticker machine. Text typed on the typewriter was displayed on the ticker machine at the opposite end of the connection. The machines printed a series of ''
ticker symbol A ticker symbol or stock symbol is an abbreviation used to uniquely identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock on a particular stock market. In short, ticker symbols are arrangements of symbols or characters (generally Latin letters or ...
s'' (usually shortened forms of a company's name), followed by brief information about the price of that company's stock; the thin strip of paper on which they were printed was called ''ticker tape''. The word ''ticker'' comes from the distinct tapping (or ''ticking'') noise the machines made while printing. Pulses on the telegraph line made a letter wheel turn step by step until the correct symbol was reached and then printed. A typical 32-symbol letter wheel had to turn on average 15 steps until the next letter could be printed resulting in a very slow printing speed of one character per second. In 1883, ticker transmitter keyboards resembled the keyboard of a piano with black keys indicating letters and the white keys indicating numbers and fractions, corresponding to two rotating type wheels in the connected ticker tape printers. Newer and more efficient tickers became available in the 1930s, but these newer and better tickers still had an approximate 15-to-20-minute delay. Ticker machines became obsolete in the 1960s, replaced by
computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital interconnections to communicate with each other. These interconnections are ...
s; none have been manufactured for use for decades. However, working reproductions of at least one model are now being manufactured for museums and collectors. Simulated ticker displays, named after the original machines, still exist as part of the display of television news channels and on some websites—see
news ticker A news ticker (sometimes called a "crawler", "crawl", "slide", "zipper", or "ticker tape") is a horizontal or vertical (depending on a language's writing system) text-based display either in the form of a graphic that typically resides in the l ...
. One of the most famous outdoor displays is the simulated ticker scrolling marquee located at
One Times Square One Times Square (also known as 1475 Broadway, the New York Times Building, the New York Times Tower, or simply as the Times Tower) is a 25-story, skyscraper on Times Square in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. Designed ...
in New York City. Ticker tapes then and now contain generally the same information. The ticker symbol is a unique set of characters used to identify the company. The shares traded is the volume for the trade being quoted. Price traded refers to the price per share of a particular trade. Change direction is a visual cue showing whether the stock is trading higher or lower than the previous trade, hence the terms ''downtick'' and ''
uptick The uptick rule is a trading restriction that states that short selling a stock is allowed only on an uptick. For the rule to be satisfied, the short must be either at a price above the last traded price of the security, or at the last traded pri ...
''. Change amount refers to the difference in price from the previous day's closing. Many today include color to indicate whether a stock is trading higher than the previous day's (green), lower than previous (red), or has remained unchanged (blue or white).


Other uses


Baseball

In the early days of
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding. The game occurs over the course of several plays, with each play generally beginning when a player on the fielding tea ...
, before electronic scoreboards, manual score turners used a ticker to get the latest scores from around the league. Today, computers and electronic scoreboards have replaced the manual scoreboard and the ticker.


Parades

Used ticker tape was used as
confetti Confetti are small pieces or streamers of paper, mylar, or metallic material which are usually thrown at celebrations, especially parades and weddings. The origins are from the Latin ''confectum'', with ''confetti'' the plural of Italian ''co ...
, to be thrown from the windows above
parade A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats, or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations ...
s either cut up into scraps or thrown as whole spools, primarily in lower
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state ...
; this became known as a ticker tape parade.Glenn's second ticker tape parade
BBC News, November 17, 1998 Ticker tape parades generally celebrated some significant event, such as the end of World War I and World War II, or the safe return of one of the early
astronaut An astronaut (from the Ancient Greek (), meaning 'star', and (), meaning 'sailor') is a person trained, equipped, and deployed by a human spaceflight program to serve as a commander or crew member aboard a spacecraft. Although generally r ...
s. Ticker tape parades are still held in New York City, specifically in the " Canyon of Heroes" in Manhattan, most often when local sports teams win a championship. However, actual ticker tape is not used any longer during these parades; often, pieces of paper from
paper shredder A paper shredder is a mechanical device used to cut sheets of paper into either strips or fine particles. Government organizations, businesses, and private individuals use shredders to destroy private, confidential, or otherwise sensitive docum ...
s are used as a convenient source of confetti.


Art

Ticker tape was also incorporated into some of the weaver Dorothy Liebes' unusual art textiles.


See also

* Commodity tick *
Don't fight the tape Trend following or trend trading is a trading strategy according to which one should buy an asset when its price trend goes up, and sell when its trend goes down, expecting price movements to continue. There are a number of different techniques, ...
*
Punched tape Five- and eight-hole punched paper tape Paper tape reader on the Harwell computer with a small piece of five-hole tape connected in a circle – creating a physical program loop Punched tape or perforated paper tape is a form of data storage ...
* Stock market data systems *
Telex The telex network is a station-to-station switched network of teleprinters similar to a telephone network, using telegraph-grade connecting circuits for two-way text-based messages. Telex was a major method of sending written messages electroni ...
*
Teleprinter A teleprinter (teletypewriter, teletype or TTY) is an electromechanical device that can be used to send and receive typed messages through various communications channels, in both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint configurations. Initi ...


References


External links


Exchanges - Ticker Tape Terminology
The Investment FAQ. 19 September 1999. 20 April 2007
Engineering and Technology History Wiki: The Stock TickerThe Stock Ticker Company: History of ticker machines.Telegraph History: Some Early Days of Western Union's Stock Ticker Service, 1871-1910
by Charles R. Tilghman {{DEFAULTSORT:Ticker Tape Stock market Office equipment Thomas Edison History of telecommunications American inventions Telegraphy