The first stock telegraph printing device was invented in 1867 by Mr. Edward A. Calahan of the American Telegraph Company. It was his idea that stock prices could be provided through some form of telegraphy. The name of the stock ticker derived from the distinct sound of the telegraph printing instrument.
In June 1869 Thomas Alva Edison was in New York City, desperately poor and looking for work. His first successful invention was the Edison Universal Stock Printer, an improvement over the original device invented by Calahan. This machine, together with several other derivatives of the Morse telegraph, produced the $40,000 Edison needed to set himself up as a manufacturer in Newark, New Jersey. There he produced stock tickers and high-speed printing telegraphs.
With little variation that model proved the standard stock ticker until the 1930s when more-improved versions appeared. In the 1970s, technology was finally able to put a new wrinkle on the machine that had one of the most recognizable sounds in the so-called civilized world. And so came the electronic stock ticker. But first, one more historical note.
Among the founders of Kuwait in the 18th century was the al Saqr family, which had made its money in shipping and trade, enjoying a reputation for being shrewd, tough businessmen. They acquired the first stock ticker in Kuwait in the 1920s. Shortly afterward they cornered the market on local coffee after learning a storm had destroyed most of the year's crop.
And now to move into the present. When investors place an order for a stock with a brokerage house, the broker gets the quote (price) and sends the order to the house's representative, who then negotiates the sale and notifies the brokerage house. These transactions occur swiftly and each one is entered into a computer system, which sends it immediately to an electronic ticker that displays stock information on a screen. Years ago this immediate information was available only at brokerage houses, but the electronic daily stock ticker has come to be a featured element of TV's financial news segments and also on financial Websites on the Internet.
It wasn't until 1996 that a ticker type electronic device was produced that could operate in true real time.