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Ticker Fades With Teletype, Hot Type

By Neal McChristy

InsideBefore computerized information, cyberspace and after the glass bell-domed early ticker tapes that were used shortly after Edison invented them, there was the stock ticker, providing up-to-the-minute coverage of Wall Street investments.

The Dow Jones 300 Stock Ticker that illustrated, owned by Malcolm Campbell, San Diego, was used many years by Alcoa, the Aluminum Company of America, makers of aluminum alloys and products.

"Not only people who were reporting would use these," Campbell said, "but also people who were running a business using it for their financial news about the status of the market."

Campbell's father, city editor at the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, until the newspaper folded in 1959, worked later at Alcoa's aluminum-skinned skyscraper headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa.

Plaque close-up"The Dow Jones tickers were part a service to provide up-to-the-minute stock quotes and financial information to a myriad of businesses," Campbell said. "They were used extensively by several departments at Alcoa's corporate headquarters.

"Although I'm sure there were several stock tickers at the Sun-Tele used by the Business Editor, the paper had a room full of teletypes which brought in outside news from the services such as AP and UP. I satisfied homework assignments in a high school Current Events class by hanging up 10 feet of teletype printout from the Tele every morning in class."

"For about five years, starting in 1932, he (Byron Campbell, Malcolm's father) was part of a team of three who all sold advertising, covered stories, shop for supplies, wrote copy, stet type, ran the press and delivered papers," Campbell said. ""He soon had a nationwide reputation for making readers and officials aware of issues which needed attention." He became a reporter in 1937, working through the ranks to become city editor. Click here to see a portrait of an early '50s newsroom.

Office equipment had many of its roots in the newsrooms (we're going to have some more about that on soon).

From the topCampbell said his father passed on all of the newspaper positions he uncovered to his people "until they all had someplace to go -- except him. This left him with the position of public relations director of a local hospital until Alcoa, which had its eye on him for several years, started their newsroom."

He says he's enjoyed collecting as far back as he can remember. ". . .If I had two of almost anything, I'd find a third and a new collection was born. I'm still that way.

"My first serious collection started when I noticed about a half square foot of a variety of postage stamps on a large box from Sears and Roebuck (we Christmas-shopped out of their catalogue.) That was about 57 years ago and I can still see those stamps waiting to be soaked off! In the early years, major contributions to the stamp collection came from the Sun-Tele where various staff members threw stamps from mail they received into a drawer to save for me.

"I collect things because they appeal to me or have a special meaning to me - not for their value. Consequently, I don't spend money trying to acquire a "complete" collection of anything or buying antiques for investment.

MalcolmFor instance, I collect models of B-24 Liberators because they were my favorite bomber as a kid during the war, and I wound up working in the very facility where they were made. The camera collection started with cameras I retired after my days as a professional motion picture and aerial photographer. Garage sales have provided most of the rest. "

He says that one thing attracting him to collecting antiques is the fact that, at his age, "many are things that were common in my early environment and they bring back wonderful memories. I love old "Our Gang" and "Little Rascals" movies (which I have a few of) because they were exactly what we were as youngsters."

The pieces of office equipment he has he considers as "just part of my general memorabilia." For example, the spittoon he's holding has a Redskin Brand logo on it. It's been in the Campbell family long no one remembers where it came from.

And as for the Dow Jones ticker, it was tapping in a day when communication was more difficult and the world seemed smaller.

"Although the newspapers had transitioned nearly a decade before this ticker was retired," Campbell said, "it is still symbolic of the machines and methods that were left behind by the growth of technology."

Click here to e-mail Malcolm Campbell

Web site links:

Please join us in a discussion about news-related antique machines in our forums

Related Web sites:
Meekins' Music Box Co.
R.M.Smythe - "Research, auction, buy, sell."

Related news story:
"Early newsrooms: Light-years from dullsville"

If you wish to e-mail the author, Neal McChristy, click here.

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