Bringing A 19th Century Stock Ticker Into The 21st Century

[Ames]’s father has had an old stock ticker sitting on a shelf for some time. He may have become quite listless over his spring break, because he decided connect a century-old stock ticker to his laptop.

When stock tickers were in use, they were all connected to a stock ticker circuit that would broadcast stock prices as a sequence of pulses. For each of these pulses, the letter wheel would advance by one character and finally print the letter with a great ca-thunk. Because stock tickers are incredibly simple devices – just a few solenoids and a couple of gears – [Ames] knew it would be relatively easy to connect one to his laptop.

[Ames]’ tool of choice for moving electrons back and forth in a wire is an Arduino, with none handy he needed to rig up something with the tools available on hand. [Ames] took a USB FTDI serial port connected the flow control lines to his ticker. A pair of MOSFETS and a tiny Python script advances the letter wheel and prints on the paper tape, a success by any measure.

After the break, you can see [Ames]’ stock ticker going about its antique machinations for the first time in possibly a hundred years. Not bad for a something put together over spring break.



20 thoughts on “Bringing A 19th Century Stock Ticker Into The 21st Century

  1. hah, great! if you take it into a shop that makes stamps, they might be able to find you an inkpad solution! (does it use a pad or an ink tape?) I can’t seem to find a datasheet for it ;)

    1. Hello: The ticker uses a roller (looks like cork) that is saturated with ink. This roller rides on the type wheel which inks all the characters with ink like a modern daisy wheel printer.
      This inking lasts for hours of printing.. . . .

  2. could you speak up please! I had my volume all the way up to listen and then CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK real fucking loud!

      1. Now this is a great hack. I love it when there’s a sense of humor indicated by the code comments:

        if c==' ': # turn spaces into dots. we like dots


        # we're going to do this the stupid way 'cause it's late.

        Ah, a true hacking catch phrase, that last one. XD

  3. It looks like you could make just an ink sponge for this, as long the ink would flow okay through it. So, kinda like those little water sponge things that show up now and again, for dampening letter flaps, where you have a squeezable plastic tube with a removable sponge.

    You just put ink in it and attach it and a mechanism to squeeze the tube and make it only last long enough to just barely saturate the sponge. You’d want the sponge to be just short of dripping, so dripping, but plenty of ink.

    If you could likely a find a way to get an old style printer inked ribbon in their that’d be pretty cool, and less messy.

  4. The soft side of a piece of leather, shoe or belt thickness should do. Use ink-pad ink used with rubber stamps, no flow issue. Just occasionally dab on more ink, comes is a paste tube.

  5. This would be pretty cool if you programmed the computer to set it fro stocks you have, or are interested in, then when there’s a change, it spits out a new quote. The ticking sound itself would alert you to the fact there’s a change.

    Pretty neat. But it needs to have a LOT more polished brass.

  6. Kudos to author, I am sure there are a few museums out there that would love to get one of those to work to make some extra money for the museum. by having a kiosk set up and for a dollar donation have a short message printed up from the past.

    Now to find one that still has the glass dome to keep the ink sponge from drying out that is the trick.

    Now I would love to see the schematics of his interface.

  7. Thanks everyone; good thoughts!

    I’m definitely going to play with this more next time i’m home.
    I want to figure out the inking. I’ll probably make something resembling the original, which used a felt roller and usually a second rubber roller.

    Then, of course, I think it’d be cute to use it for something like messages, tweets, weather; @The Timmy: actually really I like the fortune cookie idea–anyway, the possibilities are many.

    I’d probably clean it up a bit more; maybe polish it, etc.


  8. Greg @ Clauss Studios can probably help you out with parts. Been restoring a Universal Stock ticker.

    The StockTicker Company built exact working replicas of the ticker (I have one). They can supply you with ink and paper (bit expensive).

    Hope this helps.

    Mike B.

    ps. Per previous comments. Do you have schematics of your interface available?


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