Reviewed by Oct 05, 2020| Updated on
A wide tape is a modern variant of the Dow Jones news ticker tape. Originally printed on wide paper, the ticker tape was five inches across and contained tickers for the Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal. It has been referred to as broad tape tickers because of its wide size.
Today's broad tape is placed on a computer in an investment firm's boardroom. The broad tape provides investors and brokers with a continuous stream of investment, financial, and business information.
The broad tape is widely available in many ways to both investors and professionals. It can be seen on TV and on the internet, as well as via private subscription.
Broad tape tickers can be traced back to the year 1882 when Charles and Edward Jones first started a news business. At that time, the Dow Jones' industrial averages updates were called flimsies, which were carbon paper sheets that a clerk would write on by pressing very hard to produce up to 24 copies of flimsies.
Dow Jones eventually began producing separate flimsies for financial news and stock market quotes by 1897, which were sent out on a narrow tape. Therefore, a visual distinction between the two different forms of financial information was made using the wide film.
Until electricity was invented, the first stock market tickers were handwritten and circulated by messengers, who had the duty of distributing the tickers to Wall Street financial professionals. When electricity was first invented, Wall Street-wide machines were installed to transmit the information and to print broad tape tickers rather than having them handwritten and hand-delivered.
The ticker message was sent through a cable, and the document was then printed out to a broker or other financial professional's waiting hands.
The Wall Street Journal reported being remembered as resembling tiny upright coffins, which were very loud, too. The noise from the broad tape ticker machines became a backdrop for the industry, and many claimed that the tickers that were consistently printing helped keep everyone energized.
Broad tape ticker machines existed until about 2017, but now they have all been replaced by computers and electronic displays, although they may still be of interest to antique collectors.