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Stock market history / Historical milestones / Bruxelles, 1989

Bruxelles, 1989

In 1971 Reuters and the National Association of Securities Dealers set up an electronic stock market, the Nasdaq, listing only young companies operating in the electronics and IT sectors. Its success led other stock exchanges to set up electronic systems – the start of stock market computerisation. The Brussels Stock Exchange had to wait until 1989 before the first listings appeared on computer screens, no longer being chalked up on blackboards. A “big bang” heralding the ever-increasing automation of transactions. These days, computers allow thousands of orders to be processed in just microseconds.

Few clicks

In the 1980s, stock market systems became modernised: financial centre computers were networked, exchanging information, prices and money. The traditional system, which for decades had seen buyers and sellers meeting physically on the stock market floor, became obsolete, as did the process of chalking up share prices on a large blackboard.

On 24 January 1989, CATS was installed in the Brussels Stock Exchange, at first with only a few shares listed there (GIB, Solvay and Tractebel). Computerisation also signed the death warrant of brokerage companies, though automation was not fully completed until 1996.

CATS

Tie worn by Brussels brokers at the end of the 1980s

They had every reason to hate «CATS» [Computer Aided Trading System].
After listings became computerised, their work disappeared almost overnight.

Luke Jerram, New York Stock Exchange, 2004-2012

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