Dialing Device Shows Stock Quotations on Indicator (Mar, 1932)

I wonder how they did this. It seems like it would require some sort of hardware database.

Dialing Device Shows Stock Quotations on Indicator

SITTING in their offices business men may now learn at any time the status of any stock in which they are interested simply by dialing a number corresponding to the number of the stock listed on the New York Exchange.

Numbers showing the high and low of the stock and the figures at which it opened and closed are revealed on an indicator board as illustrated in the photo at the right.

The dial is similar to the dial used on telephones and rests in a convenient spot on the desk. The numbers are dialed much in the manner that phone numbers are called, so that the utmost convenience is afforded.

Each “teleregister,” as the device is called, is hooked up with the central exchange, so that the dealer has instantaneous connection with the stock market.

  1. Mike Brown says: November 10, 20118:57 am

    > It seems like it would require some sort of hardware database.

    It took a little digging (interesting, though), but it seems that you’re partly right.

    Teleregister invented a system of monitoring the stock ticker and automatically changing mechanical indicators on “quote boards” when a given stock appeared on the ticker. A subscriber would have a huge mechanical board with four sets of mechanical indicators for each stock they were interested in – at big brokerages, I gather this meant very large boards covering virtually all of the stocks on a given exchange. When a sale for a stock was reported on the ticker, the readouts for that stock would change. That system first appeared in 1929.

    That was the “hardware database” – the “computer” was a human operator on the other end of that dial, looking up the figures on the board and sending them back to the subscriber electrically. Teleregister applied for a patent on this setup in 1932, and it was issued as US patent 2,202,392 in 1940.

  2. GaryM says: November 10, 201110:53 am

    If there was human intervention on every request, you’d expect a small fraction of the responses to contain errors, possibly large ones. I could see such an error generating a stock-market panic with serious repercussions.

    And you say this system first appeared in 1929? Hmm…

  3. Christian Berger says: November 11, 201112:22 pm

    Actually by the 1930s you could make mechanical storage. For example via slotted disks.
    A simple way would be to use step switches like from telephone exchanges and connect the device to a simple device transmitting the values a a series of impulses. Of course that would be fairly large and expensive, but since you can share it with lots of other users it might be efficient.

  4. Mike says: November 15, 20117:41 am

    On November 15, 1867, the first stock ticker is unveiled in New York City. The advent of the ticker ultimately revolutionized the stock market by making up-to-the-minute prices available to investors around the country. Prior to this development, information from the New York Stock Exchange, which has been around since 1792, traveled by mail or messenger.

    The ticker was the brainchild of Edward Calahan, who configured a telegraph machine to print stock quotes on streams of paper tape (the same paper tape later used in ticker-tape parades). The ticker, which caught on quickly with investors, got its name from the sound its type wheel made.

    Calahan worked for the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company, which rented its tickers to brokerage houses and regional exchanges for a fee and then transmitted the latest gold and stock prices to all its machines at the same time. In 1869, Thomas Edison, a former telegraph operator, patented an improved, easier-to-use version of Calahan’s ticker. Edison’s ticker was his first lucrative invention and, through the manufacture and sale of stock tickers and other telegraphic devices, he made enough money to open his own lab in Menlo Park, New Jersey, where he developed the light bulb and phonograph, among other transformative inventions.

    The last mechanical stock ticker debuted in 1960 and was eventually replaced by computerized tickers with electronic displays. A ticker shows a stock’s symbol, how many shares have traded that day and the price per share. It also tells how much the price has changed from the previous day’s closing price and whether it’s an up or down change. A common misconception is that there is one ticker used by everyone. In fact, private data companies run a variety of tickers; each provides information about a select mix of stocks.


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