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Dow Jones Phasing Out ‘Ticker’ Machines

September 16, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ Dow Jones & Co. said Monday it is phasing out the clanging news printers known as ″tickers″ that have provided time-sensitive information to Wall Street since 1897.

The printers, which spit out stock-market numbers and the latest business news, are replaced by a fully electronic system that gives users access to information on a video screen.

Dow Jones spokesman Roger May said that only ″a few hundred″ of the printers still are used by smaller brokerage industry participants, newsrooms, companies and others, down from about 2,000 in recent years.

The company had more than 131,000 printers, video displays and other news- retrieval devices installed at the end of 1990, he said.

May said new technology will allow news to be disseminated 32 times faster than in the current system, a speed the old printers with their 6-inch rolls of paper could not accommodate.

″We’re talking about getting news out and getting it out quickly,″ May said. ″The coverage has increased, the competition has increased. You need to get more information out faster.″

May said the old printers would be replaced by early 1992.

On the new machines, headlines of breaking financial developments scroll out automatically on a video screen. Squeaks replace bells to alert users to especially urgent happenings.

Like ticker tape punching out stock quotations, the noisy Dow Jones ticker is the latest Wall Street symbol to be made obsolete by technology.

The printers developed by Dow Jones in 1897 replaced a system in which ″runners″ hand delivered ″flimsies″ containing news flashes to the financial community at regular intervals.

Previous generations of news tickers were bulky black or beige machines that stood about three feet high and rattled and clanked as they spit out the news.

Those were replaced over the years by smaller models, leading to today’s desktop printers that, while more compact, still make a racket.

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