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Dale’s Daily Data: Stock Ticker

If you were a stockbroker or depended on one to manage your finances, can you imagine waiting until stock quotes came in the mail or by messenger?  That’s the way it worked for the New York Stock Exchange until 1867 when the first stock ticker was introduced.   The industry was instantly transformed because up to the minute New York Stock Exchange prices were now available anywhere in the country.

Edward Calahan was the man who invented it.  He took a telegraph machine and rigged it so it could print stock quotes on streams of paper tape (the same paper tape later used in ticker-tape parades). It was called ticker-tape because of the sound the machine made when it was printing.

Calahan worked for a company that rented their machines to brokers and regional exchanges and then transmitted the latest gold and stock prices to all the machines at the same time.  It showed the stock’s symbol, how many shares have traded that day and the price per share.  It also shows how much the price has changed from the day before and whether it was a positive or negative change.

Mechanical stock tickers were eventually replaced by computerized stock updates with electronic displays.

That first stock ticker appeared in 1867.

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