Today’s traders are spoiled by their online discount brokerage accounts and their Bloomberg terminals.
Before broadband fired live quotes and analysis at the speed of light to our smartphones, people read bid-ask spreads off chalkboards and historical data off miles of ticker tape.
We went way back to see how trading was done in the pre-Bloomberg terminal era. We even went back before ticker tape was a thing.
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.
Editor’s Note: Former Business Insider writer Rob Wile contributed to the original version of this feature.
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Telegraph wires (many of which would have connected tickers) created a virtual canopy above downtown Manhattan.
Photo circa late 19th century.
Ticker tape actually persisted as late as the 1970s. With the Dial Teleregister (created in 1932) you could dial-in a stock, and its bid and ask would be displayed.
Here's how it worked. From a central transmitting station in New York City, Teleregister provided data to over 400 boards throughout the country.
But tickers still existed well into the latter half of the century. Here's a woman at checking 'high speed tape and quotations.'
A woman at a brokerage's terminal in the '70s, using one of the last ever ticker machines. It was 'high speed' at 900 characters per minute.
Here's the description from EliteTrader: 'Here is a girl working on a teletype one of the KSR series, notice the two Ultronic's and the high speed 900 series ticker. (900 characters per minute) Those were the last ever ticker machines built. Oh and back in the days you had different tapes then in the mid 1970s and up you had the consolidated tape but you still had the last sale tape and the bid and ask tape.'
'Up until 1990, many of the quote vendors forced customers to use proprietary hardware so they would not lose control over the data. Quotron and ADP had a little truck that rode around Manhattan delivering hardware,' according to one account.