These incredible images show how Wall Street traded before the Bloomberg terminal

Curb traderYouTubeEver hear of curb trading?

Today’s traders are spoiled by their Bloomberg terminals.

Back in the day, before broadband fired live quotes and analysis straight to our smartphones, people used to read bid-ask spreads off of chalkboards and historical data off of miles of ticker tape.

We decided to go back in time to see how trading was done in the pre-Bloomberg terminal era. Even 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.

Most of the time, deals would be conducted out of windows to traders on curbs via hand singles.

Telegraph wires (many of which would have connected tickers) created a tech-y canopy above downtown Manhattan.

Words in Space

Photo circa late 19th century.

Ticker tape actually persisted all the way into 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 for the closing, opening, high and low prices to over 400 boards throughout the country.

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

But tickers still existed well into the latter half of the century. Here's a woman at checking 'high speed tape and quotations.'

This nifty contraption is a Trans-Lux 'Personal Ticker.'

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

A woman at a brokerage's terminal in the '70s, using one of the last ever ticker machines. It was considered '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.'

Quotron was a household name back in the day. They were eventually sold to Reuters.


'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.

Behold, the handheld Quotron machine.

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