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Ticker tape

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Title: Ticker tape  
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Subject: Thomas Edison, CNBC Ticker, Ticker tape parade, Stock market data systems, Ticker
Collection: American Inventions, History of Telecommunications, Office Equipment, Stock Market, Telegraphy, Thomas Edison
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Ticker tape

Watching the ticker tape, 1918

Ticker tape was the earliest digital electronic communications medium, transmitting stock price information over telegraph lines, in use between around 1870 through 1970. It consisted of a paper strip that ran through a machine called a stock ticker, which printed abbreviated company names as alphabetic symbols followed by numeric stock transaction price and volume information. The term "ticker" came from the sound made by the machine as it printed.

Paper ticker tape became obsolete in the 1960s, as television and computers were increasingly used to transmit financial information. The concept of the stock ticker lives on, however, in the scrolling electronic tickers seen on brokerage walls and on financial television networks.

Ticker tape stock price telegraphs were invented in 1867 by Edward A. Calahan, an employee of the American Telegraph Company.[1]


  • History 1
  • Technology 2
  • Todays Ticker Tape 3
  • Other usage 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



  • Exchanges - Ticker Tape Terminology The Investment FAQ. 19 September 1999. 20 April 2007
  • Understanding the Ticker Tape (symbols) Investopedia 25 February 2005 20 April 2007
  • Thomas Edison's Ticker Tape Patent
  • Ticker Tape Digest (brief history of the ticker tape)
  • IEEE Global History Network: The Stock Ticker
  • WorldWideSchool: Edison and the Stock Ticker
  • The Stock Ticker Company: History of ticker machines.
  • Software emulating stock ticker tape on your desktop
  • Telegraph History: Some Early Days of Western Union's Stock Ticker Service, 1871-1910 by Charles R. Tilghman

External links

  1. ^ Technical Analysis: The Complete Resource for Financial Market Technicians. FT Press. 2010-11-15.  
  2. ^ David E Hughes, U.S. Patent 14,917 Telegraph (with alphabetic keyboard and printer) issued May 20, 1856
  3. ^ Casale, John (1997–2008). "George M. Phelps: Master Telegraph Instrument Maker and Inventor". Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  4. ^ The History of the Stock Ticker Stock Ticker Company
  5. ^ "Profile for Edward A. Calahan". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "This Day in History: First stock ticker debuts". Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Ticker Tape Digest". 
  8. ^ "Western Union 5A Stock Quotation Machine". 
  9. ^ "Sending Messages over Ticker System," Scribner's Magazine, July 1889
  10. ^ "Stock Ticker Company: The Universal Stock Ticker". 
  11. ^ Glenn's second ticker tape parade BBC News, November 17, 1998
  12. ^ "Dorothy Liebes Papers". Archives of American Art.  


See also

Ticker tape parades are still held in New York City, specifically in the "Canyon of Heroes" in Manhattan, most often when local sports teams win a championship. However, actual ticker tape is not used during these parades; often, pieces of paper from paper shredders are used as a convenient source of confetti. The term is a reference to ticker tape parades of years gone by, which used actual ticker tape as confetti.

Used ticker tape was cut into a form of confetti, to be thrown from the windows above parades, primarily in lower Manhattan; this became known as a ticker tape parade.[11] Ticker tape parades generally celebrated some significant event, such as the end of World War I and World War II, or the safe return of one of the early astronauts. Ticker tape was also incorporated into some of the innovative weaver Dorothy Liebes' unusual art textiles.[12]

Ticker tape parade in New York City for presidential candidate Richard Nixon in 1960. The long streamers are entire spools of ticker tape.

In the early days of baseball, before electronic scoreboards, manual score turners used a ticker to get the latest scores from around the league. Today, computers and electronic scoreboards have replaced the manual scoreboard and the ticker.

Other usage

Modern ticker tapes are now manufactured and operated worldwide by companies like Photonplay Systems Inc, tickers are based on led matrix technology and are controlled via web based user interfaces.

In 1980 american display companies started integrating the led based displays with the live stock market data feeds, and completely changed the traditional ticker tape, initial digital ticker tapes where tri-colored, increased stock value was shown in Green and decreased values were shown in red as today's ticker tape.

 Stock ticker installed by Photonplay Systems Inc
Stock ticker installed by Photonplay Systems Inc at University of tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico

Todays Ticker Tape

Ticker tapes then and now contain generally the same information. The ticker symbol is a unique set of characters used to identify the company. The shares traded is the volume for the trade being quoted. Price traded refers to the price per share of a particular trade. Change direction is a visual cue showing whether the stock is trading higher or lower than the previous trade, hence the terms downtick and uptick. Change amount refers to the difference in price from the previous day’s closing. These are reflected in the modern style tickers that we see every day. Many today include color to indicate whether a stock is trading higher than the previous day’s (green), lower than previous (red), or has remained unchanged (blue or white).

Simulated ticker displays, named after the original machines, still exist as part of the display of television news channels and on some websites — see news ticker. One of the most famous outdoor displays is the simulated ticker scrolling marquee located at One Times Square in New York City.

Newer and more efficient tickers became available in the 1930s, but these newer and better tickers still had an approximate 15-to-20-minute delay. Ticker machines became obsolete in the 1960s, replaced by computer networks; none have been manufactured for use for decades. However, working reproductions of at least one model are now being manufactured for museums and collectors.[10] It was not until 1996 that a ticker type electronic device was produced that could operate in true real time.

The machines printed a series of ticker symbols (usually shortened forms of a company's name), followed by brief information about the price of that company's stock; the thin strip of paper on which they were printed was called ticker tape. As with all these terms, the word ticker comes from the distinct tapping (or ticking) noise the machines made while printing. Pulses on the telegraph line made a letter wheel turn step by step until the correct symbol was reached and then printed. A typical 32-symbol letter wheel had to turn on average 15 steps until the next letter could be printed resulting in a very slow printing speed of one character per second.[8] In 1883, ticker transmitter keyboards resembled the keyboard of a piano with black keys indicating letters and the white keys indicating numbers and fractions, corresponding to two rotating type wheels in the connected ticker tape printers.[9]

Stock ticker machines are an ancestor of the modern computer printer, being one of the first applications of transmitting text over a wire to a printing device, based on the printing telegraph. This used the technology of the then-recently invented telegraph machines, with the advantage that the output was readable text, instead of the dots and dashes of Morse code. A special typewriter designed for operation over telegraph wires was used at the opposite end of the telegraph wire connection to the ticker machine. Text typed on the typewriter was displayed on the ticker machine at the opposite end of the connection.

Hughes telegraph (1866-1914), first telegraph printing text on a paper tape. Manufactured by Siemens & Halske, Germany; range: 300-400 km


By the 1880s, there were about a thousand stock tickers installed in the offices of New York bankers and brokers. In 1890, members of the exchange agreed to create the New York Quotation Co., buying up all other ticker companies to ensure accuracy of reporting of price and volume activity.[7]

Edison gold & stock ticker

Previously, stock prices had been hand-delivered via written or verbal messages. Since the useful time-span of individual quotes is very brief, they generally had not been sent long distances; aggregated summaries, typically for one day, were sent instead. The increase in speed provided by the ticker allowed for faster and more exact sales. Since the ticker ran continuously, updates to a stock's price whenever the price changed became effective much faster and trading became a more time sensitive matter. For the first time, trades were being done in what is now thought of as near real-time.

characters with a printing speed of approximately one character per second. alphanumeric in 1869, used Thomas Edison as a medium for conveying messages. One of the earliest practical stock ticker machines, the Universal Stock Ticker developed by Morse code Early versions of stock tickers provided the first mechanical means of conveying stock prices ("quotes"), over a long distance over telegraph wiring. In its infancy, the ticker used the same symbols as [6][5][4] in 1863; he unveiled his device in New York City on November 15, 1867.Edward A. Calahan The first stock price ticker system using a telegraphic printer was invented by [3]

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