Birth of the ticker


SCOTT JAGOW: For a look back at this week in business history, let's open the Marketplace Vault. And we find a little machine that made a big splash on Wall Street.

STACEY VANEK-SMITH: This week back in 1867, the first stock ticker was unveiled in New York City.

Before then, getting stock prices took a while. Information was passed by mail or messenger.

The ticker got prices to people instantly, over telegraph wires. The market started moving faster as investors got wind of trends more quickly.

The ticker was invented by Edward Calahan. A couple of years later, Thomas Edison got his hands on the machine and patented his own improved version. It was Edison's first lucrative invention.

The ticker ruled the roost for nearly a century until it was replaced by electronic displays in the '60s.

The ticker is considered the grandfather of the computer printer and of the ticker-tape parade. The first such event took place during the dedication of the statue of Liberty in 1886.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.


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