The Unseen Wall Street of 1969-1975: And Its Significance for Today

By Alec Benn | Go to book overview

2
How the Central Certificate System Was Introduced and Other Early Bumbling with Computers

The man most heavily and continuously involved in the application of computers to the processing of orders for stocks was Lee D. Arning. Even though, by his own admission, "My talent in computers was limited to kicking in the side of it when it doesn't work."1

But Lee had other talents. For computerization to function fully, people in the securities business or connected to it in one way or another had to be persuaded to adjust their thinking and ways of doing business. They had to be sold -- and Lee had a salesman's personality. His height (six feet, seven inches), premature gray hair, good looks, and selfassurance commanded respect. His quick-witted diplomacy inspired liking in difficult situations.

Before joining the Exchange, he had spent eight years selling Dun & Bradstreet's credit services. At the same time, he had gone to Rutgers at night and received a degree in business administration. When he joined the Exchange in 1955, his principal task was persuading corporations with appropriate qualifications to list their common stocks on The New York Stock Exchange.

But Lee and his superiors also labored to make the transfering of the ownership of stocks more efficient. A big obstacle was the stock certificate. For centuries, investors who bought shares of stock in corporations had received handsomely engraved certificates as evidence of ownership. Filling in the names, transferring the certificates from one brokerage firm to another, and mailing them to customers was time consuming. The certificates of stocks transferred from customers at one brokerage firm to customers at another were trundled through the streets of downtown

-10-

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