QuoTrek, eSignal’s new wireless handheld quotation and news service, is presented in the product update section of this issue. While investors have grown accustomed to immediate access to stock market information, things were different when I first started working for AAII back in 1986. I still remember listening to the local radio news station for market updates during the market crash of 1987. Others in the office were huddled around a small black-and-white TV to watch the local stock market report broadcast over UHF. You could dial-up to CompuServe or Dow Jones New/Retrieval and get a snapshot of your portfolio holdings, but most individual investors who wanted continuous access to market data relied on wireless services of a completely different nature.
For example, PC Quote offered a satellite service that ran at least $295 per month plus exchange fees, while Telemet America and Lotus Information Network offered FM-based services that cost at least $400 for equipment with subscriptions starting at $30 per month for delayed quotes.
Back in 1987, the QuoTrek handheld receiver cost $395 to purchase, while basic service cost $40 per month with additional monthly exchange fees ranging from $3 to $55 per exchange. Receiving the NYSE, Amex, and Nasdaq exchange services cost $167.75 per month.
The handheld, calculator-sized receiver used FM radio signals to obtain its quotes and would need to be tuned to a specific channel for a given city. While the information was considered real-time, a continuously updated loop of information would rotate through all 20,000 stock, options and futures quotes and pull data for requested tickers. It would take from three to eight minutes to go completely through the loop, so even real-time information could have an eight-minute delay.
The QuoTrek receiver could hold data for 125 tickers and would last four to six hours per charge. The service was initially only available in 13 cities and reception could vary dramatically throughout a broadcast region. The QuoTrek receiver sported a two-foot antenna, so portability was somewhat limited.
The QuoTrek service of today is completely different. It is not tied to dedicated hardware, but instead is a software application that installs onto your handheld device, which must have wireless access of its own. QuoTrek supports Pocket PC, Palm, and RIM Blackberry devices and goes well beyond a simple display of last sale, net change, daily high and low, prior close and volume.
In addition to streaming real-time quotes, the service provides news, charts and a library of 15 customizable technical indicators. The service costs $49.95 per month, but, as always, exchange fees are extra. Existing eSignal and MarketCenter subscribers can obtain QuoTrek for $25 per month with no additional exchange fees. QuoTrek offers a 30-day free trial, but subscribers will have to pay any applicable exchange fees. Investors today have many additional options to obtain security quotes and track their portfolio holdings. However, QuoTrek remains a leading source of data for the active investor and trader.