The urgent tapping of the ticker tape machine printing out numbers was for years associated with American business and success. Brokers counted on it to keep them up to date with the ups and downs of the New York Stock Exchange. Though Thomas Edison is credited with perfecting it, Edward Calahan is the original inventor of the famous device.

Inventor Edward Calahan

Edward Calahan quit school at the young age of 11 to go to work as a telegrapher, tapping out words on a machine that sent messages over wires. His ambition to succeed in the business world eventually led him to the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company in the 1860s. While an employee, he invented the ticker tape machine. His goal was to replace messenger boys who relayed stock, bond and commodity prices to brokers and investors with something faster and more efficient. The New York Stock Exchange purchased his invention, which led to the increased flow of money and the centralization of trading.

Calahan's Invention

The ticker tape machine typed out printed stock exchange transactions sent over telegraph wires. It made a ticking noise as it worked, and printed out long tapes -- hence its name, ticker tape machine. Thomas Edison soon improved upon Calahan's invention, designing a mechanism that synchronized all the machines on one line. This eliminated the need for employees to monitor and reset them if they fell out of unison.