Very Short History about High Speed Trading

Trying to get the information as fast as possible is nothing new. When the first transatlantic cable started to operate between London and New York (around 1866) people with access to the telegraph had a week advantage compared to people getting information by the old technology (ships).

In 1904 according to option trader Nelson up to 500 messages per hour and typically 2000 to 3000 messages per day where sent between the London and the New York market through the cable companies. Each message flashed over the wire system in less than a minute.

Carrier pigons have been used to carry information as fast as possible by firms like Reuters. In 1860, Paul Reuter, who later founded Reuters press agency, used a fleet of over 45 pigeons to deliver news and stock prices between Brussels and Aachen, the terminals of early telegraph lines.

Today the race is about milliseconds and microseconds. In the future the race will likely be about nanoseconds, then picoseconds, then femtoseconds, then attoseconds – there is no end in sight for the race of getting the information as fast as possible!


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