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The ABCs of a stock market ticker: Navigating the financial markets

When you think of the stock market, you might picture people shouting and waving their arms. But behind the scenes, there’s a simple tool that helps keep everything organised – the stock ticker symbol. 

These shortcodes of letters and numbers identify each company traded on the market. Just by looking at a few characters, you can tell which company’s stock you want to buy or sell. Stock tickers make trading stocks a whole lot easier.

Today’s article will focus on stock tickers, their types, and more. Let’s begin!

What is a stock ticker?

Companies listed on the stock market use special identifiers called “ticker symbols” to identify themselves. Each stock or investment traded on a stock market has its own unique symbol, or ticker, consisting of a mix of letters and digits. Especially while trading, the symbol serves to designate a particular stock. 

To conduct trades, the trading system of the exchange records the ticker symbol of each company. If you input the ticker symbol, the system will locate the stock easily.

History of stock tickers: Who invented the first stock ticker?

When contemporary stock exchanges first emerged in the 1800s, floor retailers had to write down or yell out the whole name of the listed company to communicate the share price. 

As the number of publicly listed businesses grew from a few dozen to hundreds, they quickly discovered that this procedure took a lot of time and caused a backlog in the information queue, making it impossible to keep up with the rapidly fluctuating prices.

Edward Calahan, a member of the American Telegraph Company, invented the first telegraphic ticker tape in 1867. Thomas Edison submitted a patent for an upgraded version of Calahan’s idea only four years later. 

The names of companies were condensed to anywhere from one to five alpha symbols to communicate price fluctuations on company shares to traders more effectively.

Though digital displays have taken on the role of paper ticker tape in stock tickers nowadays, they still exist. In today’s digital trading environment, a stock ticker facilitates online stock searches and, in particular situations, trades via brokerage platforms.

Types of ticker symbols

There are differences in stock tickers since each stock exchange has its own set of standards regarding the format and length of its symbols. As mentioned before, between four and five letters make up the majority of stock tickers, while certain stock exchanges permit digits. 

For instance, the Nasdaq permits up to five characters, whereas the New York Stock Exchange permits up to four.

Modifiers are extra letters added to stock ticker symbols. These letters come after the periods in the symbols. Modifiers indicate the class of stock, shareholder rights, the kind of stock, including preferred stock, or the type of asset, such as mutual funds.

The class will be attached to the suffix if the organisation has several classes of shares that are traded on the market. For example, the initials “PR” and the class letter will usually be attached if it is a preferred stock.

In particular, if a corporation has several classes of shares listed on the market, certain stock symbols reveal whether or not the shares in question have voting rights. As an example, the Nasdaq listing for Alphabet Inc. has two distinct types of shares: GOOG and GOOGL.

Purpose of a ticker symbol

Stock exchanges employ ticker symbols as shorthand for identifying stocks and providing investors and analysts with pertinent information like dividends, earnings reports, etc. 

Since certain businesses provide two distinct share classes—one with voting rights and one without—some companies trade under two separate symbols on a single stock exchange.

One such company is TATA Motors. Tata Motors has multiple ticker symbols for its shares that come with Differential Voting Rights (DVRs). For example, you may find the ordinary shares listed under the ticker symbol TATAMOTORS, whereas the DVR shares are under the ticker TATAMTRDVR.

Additionally, the symbols assist in distinguishing between the various stock exchanges’ share types. You can identify them on trading platforms and stock exchange websites since they are offered in distinct patterns across various indices.


The stock market can feel like a confusing, hectic place, especially for beginners. But stock tickers help make sense of the chaos. While stock trading involves plenty of complexities, tickers provide a simple way to keep everything organised and running smoothly. 


Who sold the world’s first stock?

The world’s first stock was sold by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Established in 1602, the VOC became the first company to issue shares of its business to the public, effectively conducting the world’s first initial public offering (IPO). This historical event laid the foundation for modern financial markets and corporate financing.

 Who was the first IPO in the world? 

In August 1602, the Dutch East India Company carried out the first-ever initial public offering (IPO) in history. The company issued shares to the public to raise capital for its trading expeditions to the East Indies. This groundbreaking event marked the beginning of the public’s ability to participate in the financial growth of a company.

What is the world’s first share market? 

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, established in 1602 alongside the creation of the Dutch East India Company, is considered the world’s first official stock exchange. Setting the stage for the current stock market system, it provided a controlled environment where investors could trade shares issued by the VOC.

 What does the ticker display on a stock mean? 

A stock ticker displays key information about a stock, including its ticker symbol, the last traded price, the change in price since the previous close, and often the trading volume. It provides investors with real-time or near-real-time data on stock movements, helping them make informed decisions. The ticker may also show arrows indicating the direction of the price movement, with colour coding to reflect price changes.

 Who started the Indian stock market? 

The Indian stock market began with informal trading under a banyan tree in the 1830s in Bombay. It was formalised with the establishment of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in 1875 by a group of 22 stockbrokers. Mr. Premchand Roychand, one of the most influential businessmen in 19th-century Bombay, played a pivotal role in setting up the BSE, which is Asia’s oldest stock exchange.

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