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Posted on 10 April 2011 | 5,030 views

Ticker Tape Machine Could Not Keep up With Stock Market Crash of 1929

In 1929, people had “Ticker Tape Machines” on their desks — it was like a telegraph that made a ticking noise as it printed stock quotes. You would get an actual ribbon of paper with stock quotes but during the stock market crash of 1929, the stock ticker machines could not keep up with the volume in trading.

Ticker tape machines were invented in the 1870s, early versions of stock tickers provided the first mechanical means of conveying stock prices (stock quotes), over a long distance over telegraph wiring. Previously, they were hand-delivered via written or verbal messages.

The ticker tape 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 they were printed on was called ticker tape.

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. One of the earliest practical stock ticker machines, Universal Stock Ticker developed by Thomas Edison in 1870, had an alphanumeric printing speed of approximately 1 character per second. 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 got displayed on the ticker machine at the opposite end of the connection. An early analog signaling method was used for text transmission between the typewriter and the stock ticker machine.

Stock ticker machines became obsolete in the 1960s, replaced by computer networks — none have been manufactured for use for decades.

Simulated ticker displays, named after the original machines, still exist as part of the display of television news channels such as CNBC and Bloomberg.

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