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Does Anyone Use Ticker Tape Anymore?

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As the Chicago City Council proposes holding a ticker tape parade for the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden, one has to wonder: where do you even get ticker tape these days?

The answer is, you don't. While ticker tape is still used by some physicists to measure velocity and acceleration, it hasn't been used on financial trading floors -- or in ticker tape parades -- for years.

Back in 1991, the New York Times noted that, "despite the computerization of Wall Street, some genuine ticker tape provided by the TransLux Corporation of Norwalk, Conn." was used in a parade honoring soldiers returning from Operation Desert Storm.

Matthew Brandt, a vice president of Trans-Lux -- which first provided ticker tape for the Lindbergh parade in 1927 -- told the paper the company was "one of the last manufacturers and vendors of tickers and ticker tape left in the free world."

"We mustered up 150 40-gallon Hefty bags, each containing 7,250 feet of ticker tape, which equals just over 200 miles. It came complete with stock quotes and it's been spitting out of eight tickers for just over two months, 24 hours a day," he said.

In total, Trans-Lux supplied about 500 lbs. of ticker tape, a small part of the total 12,000 lbs. of overall paper showering down on Broadway.

A phone call to Trans-Lux sales representative Tom Mahoney's office confirmed, after a minute or two of back-and-forth while Mr. Mahoney's assistant made sure she was hearing me correctly, that they no longer manufacture ticker tape.

Nowadays, New York City gets its "ticker tape" from, among other sources, Atlas Materials Inc., a Brooklyn, NY packaging manufacturer.

"We supplied a half-ton of ticker tape for the 2008 Giants parade and the Yankees parade in 2009," Atlas' John Cioffi told me.

But what the world calls ticker tape is, in fact, "ticker tape."

"It's shredded, unprinted paper, basically newspaper, that we normally sell to pet stores for dog bedding," Cioffi said of the half-ton Atlas supplied. "I saw on the news that people at one company had accidentally thrown a whole bunch of live checks and confidential memos out the windows, so I called City Hall and offered to donate shredded paper for next time. They called back that afternoon and the next day we were cutting up."

The other difference? Today's ticker tape-less ticker tape parades are, in keeping with the times, far more environmentally friendly than actual ticker tape parades once were.

"It will all be cleaned up by the sanitation department and recycled yet again," Cioffi told NY1 before 2009's Yankees parade. "So this is going to be a green parade."

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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.