Stock Ticker

Stock Ticker

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Description (Brief)
Until the decade of the 1990s, when traders adopted the Internet, tickers provided vital stock market information to businesses and news organizations. Stock tickers were a special type of telegraph receiver designed to print an alphabetical company symbol and the current price of that company’s stock on a paper roll called ticker tape. Thomas Edison made his early reputation as an inventor by designing an improved stock ticker for the Gold & Stock Telegraph Company. The company submitted this ticker to the U.S. Patent Office during the process leading to the issue of patent number 140,488 in 1873.
Currently not on view (ticker tape)
Object Name
telegraph ticker receiver
stock ticker
telegraph printer
printing telegraph
telegraph ticker
Object Type
Patent Model
Other Terms
telegraph ticker receiver; Telegraphy; printer
date made
Edison, Thomas Alva
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
brass (overall material)
glass (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 16 1/2 in x 15 1/2 in x 14 in x 15 in; 41.91 cm x 39.37 cm x 35.56 cm x 38.1 cm
ID Number
catalog number
patent number
accession number
Stock Markets
Patent Models
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Work and Industry: Electricity
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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The weakness of mechanical stock tickers showed itself during the Crash of 29, when prices were changing so quickly, that the tickers couldn't keep up. An order to sell now to cut your losses, would not be guaranteed to execute at the price that you saw on your ticker tape machine because that price could be dramatically different a few seconds later. It would most likely execute a lot lower than that, resulting in a bigger loss than expected. Even computerized quotes can't be guaranteed to be accurate for very long, but the information does reach you sooner than if it were transmitted over telegraph lines by a human operator at the other end, giving you a little more time to decide what to do.
How wide is the tape that is used in a ticker tape machine?
I think the early narrow paper ticker tape was 3/4 of an inch wide (0.75 inches), but I think the tape used later was a full 1 inch wide. See my Web page:

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