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Certificates and Computers: The Remaking of Wall Street, 1967 to 1971

Wyatt Wells
The Business History Review
Vol. 74, No. 2 (Summer, 2000), pp. 193-235
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3116692
Page Count: 45
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Certificates and Computers: The Remaking of Wall Street, 1967 to 1971
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Abstract

Events in the late 1960s reshaped the securities industry. Trading volume increased sharply, with the number of shares changing hands on the New York Exchange growing from five million a day in 1965 to twelve million a day in 1968. This expansion overwhelmed the mechanisms brokers used to transfer securities and keep records, which relied heavily on paper and pen. They responded by purchasing computers, but these machines were expensive and demanded more sophisticated management than most firms could provide. Accordingly, many companies botched the process. Moreover, trading volume declined sharply in 1969 and 1970, cutting deeply into brokerage revenue. These factors combined to create a crisis that had, by the end of 1970, forced nearly a sixth of the nation's brokerage firms out of business. Yet this crisis also opened the way for large, integrated companies, which, by the 1990s, dominated the securities industry and conducted business on a scale unimagined thirty years earlier.

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