Stock market data systems



Stock market data systems communicate
market data ''For market data as used in marketing, see marketing information system'' In finance, market data is price and other related data for a financial instrument reported by a trading venue such as a stock exchange. Market data allows traders an ...
—information about securities and stock trades—from
stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange where stockbrokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares of stock, bonds and other financial instruments. Stock exchanges may also provide facilities for the i ...
s to
stockbroker A stockbroker is a regulated broker, broker-dealer, or registered investment adviser (in the United States) who may provide financial advisory and investment management services and execute transactions such as the purchase or sale of stocks an ...
s and stock traders.


The earliest stock exchanges were in France in the 12th century and in Bruges and Italy in the 13th. Presumably data about trades in those times was written down by
scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing. The profession of the scribe, previously widespread across cultures, lost most of its promin ...
s and traveled by courier. In the early 19th century
Reuters Reuters ( ) is a news agency owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation. It employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide. Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world. The agency was estab ...
sent data by
carrier pigeon The homing pigeon, also called the mail pigeon or messenger pigeon, is a variety of domestic pigeons (''Columba livia domestica'') derived from the wild rock dove, selectively bred for its ability to find its way home over extremely long dist ...
s between Germany and Belgium In London early exchanges were located near coffee houses which may have played a part in trading.

Chalk boards

In the late 1860s, in New York, young men called "runners" prices between the exchange and broker’s offices, and often these prices were posted by hand on large chalk boards in the offices. Updating a chalk board was an entry point for many traders getting into financial markets and as mentioned in the book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator those updating the boards would wear fur sleeves so they wouldn't accidentally erase prices. The
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed c ...
is known as the "Big Board", perhaps because of these large chalk boards. Until recently, in some countries such chalkboards continued in use. Morse code was used in Chicago until 1967 for traders to send data to clerks called "board markers".


From 1797 to 1811 in the United States, the ''New York Price Current'' was first published. It was apparently the first newspaper to publish stock prices, and also showed prices of various
commodities In economics, a commodity is an economic good, usually a resource, that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them. The price of a c ...
. In 1884 the Dow Jones company published the first stock market averages, and in 1889 the first issue of the '' Wall Street Journal'' appeared. As time passed, other newspapers added market pages. The ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid ...
'' was first published in 1851, and added stock market tables at a later date.

Electronic systems

Ticker tape

In 1863 Edward A. Calahan 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, pe ...
invented a stock telegraph printing instrument which allowed data on
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 company ...
bond Bond or bonds may refer to: Common meanings * Bond (finance), a type of debt security * Bail bond, a commercial third-party guarantor of surety bonds in the United States * Chemical bond, the attraction of atoms, ions or molecules to form chemica ...
s, and commodities to be sent directly from exchanges to broker offices around the country. It printed the data on wide paper tape wound on large reels. The sound it made while printing earned it the name "stock ticker". Other inventors improved on this device, and ultimately
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 inventi ...
patented a "universal stock ticker", selling over 5,000 in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century
Western Union The Western Union Company is an American multinational financial services company (law), company, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Founded in 1851 as the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company in Rochester, New York, th ...
acquired rights to an improved ticker which could deal with the increasing volume of stocks sold per day. At the time of the stock market crash in October, 1929, trading volumes were so high that the tickers fell behind, contributing to the panic. In the 1930s the New York Quotation Stock Ticker became widely used. A further improvement was in place in 1960. In 1923 Trans Lux Corporation delivered a rear projection system which projected the moving ticker onto a screen where all in a
brokerage A broker is a person or firm who arranges transactions between a buyer and a seller for a commission when the deal is executed. A broker who also acts as a seller or as a buyer becomes a principal party to the deal. Neither role should be confu ...
office could see it. It was a great success, and by 1949 there were more than 1400 stock-ticker projectors in the U.S. and another 200 in Canada. In 1959 they started shipping a Trans-Video system called CCTV which gave a customer a small video desk monitor where he could monitor the tickers. Trans-Lux: Biography of a Corporation, by Christine Grenz, 1982, the Trans-Lux Corporation In August 1963 Ultronics introduced Lectrascan, the first wall mounted all electronic ticker display system. By 1964 there were over 1100 units in operation in stock broker offices in the U.S. and Canada. Competition, including Ultronics' Lectrscan electron wall system, led Trans-Lux to introduce the Trans-Lux Jet. Jets of air controlled lighted disks which moved on a belt on the broker's wall. Brokers ordered over 1000 units in the first six months, and by the middle of 1969 more than 3000 were in use in the U.S. and Canada.

Automatic quotation boards

A quotation board is a large vertical electronic display located in a brokerage office, which automatically gives current data on stocks chosen by the local broker. In 1929 the Teleregister Corporation installed the first such display, and by 1964 over 650 brokerage offices had them. The information included the previous day’s closing price, opening price, high for the day, low for the day, and current price. Teleregister offered data from the New York,
American 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 ...
, Midwest, Chicago Mercantile, Commodity, New York Cocoa, New York coffee and sugar, New York Mercantile, New York Produce, New York Cotton, and New Orleans Cotton exchanges, along with the Chicago Board of Trade. Some firms had a battery of telephone operators seated in front of a Teleregister board to supply commission houses with price and volume data. In 1962 two such batteries handled over 39,000 calls per day. In 1955 Scantlin Electronics, Inc. introduced a competitive display system very similar in appearance but with digits twice the size of Teleregister’s, fitting into the same board area. It was less expensive and soon was installed in many broker offices.

Stock market quotation systems

In the late 1950s brokers had become accustomed to several problems doing business with their customers. To make a trade, an investor had to know the current price for the stock. The investor got this from a broker who could find it on his board. If the last trade (or the stock itself) hadn't made it to the board (or there was no board) the broker telegraphed a request for the price to that firm's "wire room" in New York. There, such requests would be forwarded to the floor of the appropriate exchange, where messengers could copy down prices at the locations where those stocks were traded, and telephone answers back to the wire room. Typical elapsed times were between 15 and 30 minutes just to inform the broker. Phister, Montgomery, Quotron II: An Early Multiprogrammed Multiprocessor for the Communication of Stock Market Data, ''Annals of the History of Computing'' (1989) 11:109-126


Jack Scantlin of Scantlin Electronics, Inc. (SEI) developed the Quotron I system, consisting of a
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic storage made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on the earlier magnetic wire recording from Denmark. Devices that use magn ...
storage unit that could be sited at a brokerage and Desk Units with a keyboard and printer. The storage unit recorded the data from the ticker line. Brokers could enter the stock symbol on a desk unit. This triggered a backward search on the magnetic tape (which continued recording incoming ticker data). When a transaction was located, the price was sent to the desk unit, which printed it on a tape. The first Quotron units were installed in 1960, and were an immediate success. By the end of 1961 brokers were leasing Quotrons in some 800 offices, serving some 2,500 desk units across the United States.

Ultronics vs. Quotron

Quotron’s success attracted the attention of Robert S. Sinn, who observed its disadvantages: it could only give a last price. The opening price, high and low for the day, and share volume were not available. His system received the ticker transmissions from the various stock and commodity exchanges. These were then automatically interpreted by a hard wired digital computer updating a '' drum memory'' with the last sale prices and at the same time computing and updating highs and lows and total volume for each stock. As these items were updated a data packet would be generated for transmission by AT&T Dataphone at 1000 bits/second to identical magnetic drum storage devices in each major city in the United States. These slave drum memory units located in the metropolitan centers in the US could then be accessed by desk units in local stock brokerage offices again using Dataphone transmission. The desk units would set up the ticker symbol code for the desired stock by mechanical means actuating micro switches. The local control box would continuously interrogate each desk unit in sequence and send a request data packet by Dataphone to the local drum memory which would then send return data packets back to the local brokerage office. Each packet both for request and answer would contain the request stock alphabetic symbols plus a desk unit identifier. Because the desk units set up the requested stock code statically the desk unit would automatically update the stock price, volume, and highs and lows without any operator intervention because the control unit could complete the interrogation of all desk units in the office in about every one or two seconds, This is the first use of data packet transmission with the sender’s identification imbedded in the data packet in order to avoid switching- a forerunner of the internet? There was no switching in the entire system; all was done with data packets containing sender identifiers. Sinn formed Ultronic Systems Corp. in December 1960, and was president and CEO from then until he left the company in 1970. By the fall of 1961 Ultronics had installed its first desk units (Stockmaster) in New York and Philadelphia, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Stockmaster desk units offered the user quick access and continuous monitoring of last sale, bid, ask, high, low, total volume, open, close, earnings, and dividends for each stock on the NYSE and the AMEX plus commodities from the various U.S. commodity exchanges. Ultimately Ultronics and General Telephone (which bought Ultronics in 1967) installed some 10,000 units world-wide. In June 1964 Ultronics and the British news company
Reuters Reuters ( ) is a news agency owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation. It employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide. Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world. The agency was estab ...
signed a joint venture agreement to market Stockmaster worldwide outside of North America. This venture lasted for 10 years and was very successful, capturing the worldwide market for U.S. stock and commodity price information. Ultronics invented time division multiplex equipment to utilize Reuters’ voice grade lines to Europe and the Far East to transmit U.S. stock and commodity information plus Reuters’ teletype news channels. In the early 1960s when these first desk top quotation units were developed the only real time information available from the various stock and commodity exchanges were the last sale and the bid and ask ticker lines. The last sale ticker contained every trade with both price and volume for each trade. The bid-ask ticker contained only the two prices and no size. The volume of data on the last sale ticker was therefore much greater than on the bid-ask ticker. Because of this, on high volume days the last sale ticker would run as much as fifteen minutes behind the bid-ask ticker. This time difference made having the bid-ask on their desk top unit extremely important to a stockbroker even though there was an extra charge to the exchange for this information. Scantlin Electronics reacted immediately to the Ultronic threat. In early 1962 they began work on their own computer-based system and put it into service in December, 1962. It used four Control Data CDC 160A computers in New York which recorded trading data in magnetic core memory. Major cities hosted Central Office equipment connected to newly designed Quotron II desk units in brokerage offices on which a broker could request, for any stock, price and net change from the opening, or a summary which included highs, lows, and volumes (later SEI added other features like dividends and earnings). The requests went to a Central Office, which condensed and forwarded them to the New York computer. Replies followed the sequence in reverse. The data was transmitted on AT&T's Dataphone high-speed telephone service. In 1963 the new system was accepted by many brokers, and was installed in hundreds of their offices. At the end of each day, this same system transmitted stock market pages to United Press International, which in turn sold them to its newspaper customers all over the world. When Ultronics introduced their Stockmaster desk units in 1961 they priced the service at approximately the same price as the Quotron desk units. They did not want a price competition only a performance competition. All of these stock quote devices were sold on leases with monthly rental charges. The cost of the system, desk units and installation was therefore born solely by the vendor not the customer (broker). The pricing at that time made the units quite profitable and allowed the companies to finance the cost and use rapid accounting depreciation of the equipment. In 1964 Teleregister introduced their Telequote desk units at prices significantly less than Stockmaster or Quotron. This forced Ultronics and Scantlin to reduce the prices of their Stockmaster and Quotron systems. The Telequote desk units never did gain a significant share of the desk top quotation business, but their price cutting did seriously reduce the overall profitability of this business in the U.S.. Ultronics was fortunate to have made the joint venture arrangement with Reuters for the stock quotation business outside of North America where this price cutting was not a factor.Robert S. Sinn, December, 2013 The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis blocked Ultronics from winning a historic first. In July 1962 AT&T launched the first commercial satellite (
Telstar Telstar is the name of various communications satellites. The first two Telstar satellites were experimental and nearly identical. Telstar 1 launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket on July 10, 1962. It successfully relayed through space the f ...
) to transmit television and telephone voice channels between the U.S. and England and France. This was a non-synchronous satellite which circled the earth in an elliptical orbit of about 2.5 hours, such that it gave only about 20 minutes of communication between the U.S. and Europe on each pass. Ultronics arranged with AT&T to use one of its voice channels to transmit U.S. stock prices to Paris in October 1962. All of the arrangements were made-a Stockmaster unit was installed in the Bache brokerage office on Rue Royale and all of the American Stockbrokers and the press and television were ready for this historic event. About two hours before the pass the stock transmission was cancelled because U.S. president John Kennedy was going to use the pass to send his speech to France concerning the Cuban missile crisis.


In 1964 Teleregister introduced the Am-Quote system with which a broker could enter code numbers into a standard telephone; a second later a pleasant (prerecorded) voice repeated the code numbers and provided the required price information. This system, like Ultronics’, made use of magnetic drums.

Computerized quoting

NASDAQ, founded in 1972 was the first electronic stock market. It was originally designed only as an electronic quotation system, with no ability to perform electronic trades.'History of the American and NASDAQ Stock Exchanges' , , Retrieved December 10, 2014 Other systems soon followed and by the turn of the century, every exchange was using this model.

See also

* Stock Market * Stock trader *
Stock Exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange where stockbrokers and traders can buy and sell securities, such as shares of stock, bonds and other financial instruments. Stock exchanges may also provide facilities for the i ...
* Financial data vendor * Electronic trading *
Securities A security is a tradable financial asset. The term commonly refers to any form of financial instrument, but its legal definition varies by jurisdiction. In some countries and languages people commonly use the term "security" to refer to any for ...
* Stockbrokers * Ticker tape * Trading room


External links

Stock Ticker History
{{DEFAULTSORT:Stock Market Data Systems Stock market Telephony