14 Gadgets That Wall Street Loved Before The Bloomberg Terminal

ticker room

Photo: American Museum of Finance, NYC

There are a lot of pretty cool trading desks out there, as we’ve shown on our site previously.But you might say it’s not the size of your monitor that matters, but how you use the information on it.

We wanted to go back to see how trading was done before you could even compare your Bloomberg to anyone else’s.

That is, before Michael Bloomberg was even born.

With the help of images from the Museum of American Finance in New York, we put together a brief, visual history of trading technology, from ticker tape to the present. 

Photo from 1915.

That's because half the time, deals would literally be conducted from the curb via hand signals — check it out...

The first stock ticker debuted in November, 1867. It was basically a modified telegraph receiver — someone typed in stock quotes on one end, and they were instantly printed onto the machine's ticker tape at the other. Eventually Thomas Edison patented a better version, and their use exploded.

The tickers were seen as a novelty by some...

Print advertisement for 'Duke's 'Preferred Stock' Cigarettes.'

In the earliest days, telegraph wires, many of which would have connected tickers, created a virtual canopy above downtown Manhattan.

Photo circa late 19th century.

Ticker tape from Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929), showing the first trades of the historic day. Note the date at the top left and follow the stocks as their prices are quoted.

Here's how the day ended. Notice the volume steadily increasing throughout the day...

By 1926, a broad-sheet version had been developed by Dow Jones. Here's a classy Art Deco version with a clipboard.

Here's a photo of trader on Wall Street in a raincoat and hat at a trading post (date unknown).

Ticker tape actually persisted ast late as the 1970s, but improvements inevitably came along. Created in 1932, the Dial Teleregister, you could dial-in a stock and its bid and ask would be displayed.

Here's a more handsome version.

The industrial version, the quotation board, also killed the first medium used to display stock info: chalkboards.

Here's how it worked. From a central transmitting station in New York City, Teleregister provided data to over 400 boards throughout the country, showing closing, opening, high and low price.

We believe this is one section of the aforementioned Central Transmitting Room that controlled Teleregister prints.

The coolest image we found: a broker's office, circa 1930, at the firm of Benjamin Block & Co., featuring various ticker tape machines and stock quote board. Here is your steampunk Bloomberg terminal.

Versions of these persisted until digital displays came along. Here's what one looked like in 1955.

Source: EliteTrader

'In the 70s if you had money to spend you can avail yourself' of one, according to an EliteTrader.com commenter.

By the 1970s, things start to get slightly more familiar. Here's Bunker Ramo's video terminal. Bunker Ramo is now owned by Honeywell.

By the eighties, the big time tech player was Quotron. Here's what one of their terminals looked like on Black Monday, October 19, 1987.

A handheld quotron machine.

In sum: We guess today's desks are sorta cool...

But again, you'll never top this guy.

But some of the modern trading desks are somewhat legit...

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