When Was the First Stock Ticker Invented and by Whom?

The ticker of a stock or financial instrument might look difficult for someone new to financial markets. What is a ticker, and when was the first stock ticker invented, and by whom?

The first stock ticker was invented by Edward A. Calahan in 1863. However, it was not unveiled until November 15, 1867, in New York City (where else?).

Let’s dig deeper into the stock ticker system:

When was the first stock ticker invented – and by whom?

According to many sources, the stock ticker was invented by Edward Augustin Calahan (1838–1912). According to Wikipedia, he worked at Western Union, and he saw a lot of potential in improving communications. He thus made the ticker system to be used via telegraph instead of using “runners”. 

In 1867 the ticker system was first used, and it is still in use today. 

Did Thomas Edison also invent the stock ticker?

No, he was after Edward A. Calahan, but it was one of Edison’s first inventions when he submitted a patent in 1873. 

First, you might be wondering what a ticker is. Let’s explain:

What is a stock ticker?

A stock ticker is a display or report that provides the latest prices of selected securities, often updated continuously throughout the trading day.

Each publicly traded company has a unique ticker symbol that identifies it on a particular stock exchange. For example, the ticker symbol for Apple Inc. is AAPL.

Back in the day they obviously didn’t have the technology we do today, and it served another purpose. Thus, the term “ticker” originated from the early days of the stock market, when prices were displayed on ticker tapes, long strips of paper that were printed with moving type.

Today, stock tickers are typically displayed electronically, on screens or websites:

When Was The First Stock Ticker Invented
When Was The First Stock Ticker Invented

In this example, the ticker is displaying the prices of Apple Inc. (AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), and Alphabet Inc. (GOOG). AAPL is up 0.15% from the previous day’s closing price, MSFT is down 0.34%, and GOOG is up 0.76%.

Normally, a ticker might display the following:

  • Price: The current price of the stock is displayed prominently on the ticker.
  • Change: The price change, both in dollar amount and percentage, is also shown.
  • Volume: The number of shares of the stock that have been traded during the current trading session is typically displayed.
  • Direction: The direction of the price change is often indicated by a color coding system, with green for up, red for down, and neutral colors for no change.

Why do we have stock tickers, and why is it important?

We have stock tickers because it allows for the real-time transmission of stock prices from the New York Stock Exchange to brokers and investors across the country. You have probably seen it in old movies or old news clips. It was a revolutionary invention.

This enabled investors to follow their stocks as it was the only way to track them before the internet or news channels distributed them. 

How many letters are there in a ticker?

A ticker has from one to five tickers, depending on the exchange.

You have probably noticed it, but some tickers have just one letter while others have many. For example, Ford uses F while Microsoft uses MSFT. Let’s briefly explain why:

The different stock exchanges are different entities and have different requirements. Typically, a ticker is between one and five letters. 

New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and American Stock Exchange (AMEX) have three characters or less, while Nasdaq accepts up to five. 

Some tickers might have a “dot” included, for example, Berkshire Hathaway: BRK.B. The added B indicates that this is a class B common stock. 

FAQ:

What is a stock ticker, and who invented it?

Thomas Edison did not invent the stock ticker. Edward A. Calahan preceded him, but Edison submitted a patent for a similar invention in 1873. The stock ticker is a display or report providing the latest prices of selected securities. It was invented by Edward A. Calahan in 1863, with the system first used in 1867.

How does a stock ticker work, and why is it important?

The term “ticker” originated from the early days when prices were displayed on ticker tapes, long strips of paper printed with moving type. A stock ticker displays real-time stock prices, allowing for the transmission of this information across the country. It was crucial before the internet, enabling investors to track stocks in real-time.

Why do some stock tickers have one letter, while others have more?

Different stock exchanges have different requirements. NYSE and AMEX tickers have three characters or less, while Nasdaq accepts up to five. Some tickers, like Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), include a “dot” to indicate class distinctions. Stock tickers usually have between one and five letters. NYSE and AMEX tickers have three characters or less, while Nasdaq accepts up to five.

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