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Bloomberg Terminal

The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system that enables financial professionals to access the Bloomberg Professional service through which users can monitor and analyze real-time financial market data movements and place trades. The system also provides news, price quotes, and messaging across its proprietary secure network. Most large financial firms have subscriptions to the Bloomberg service, which costs $1,500 to $1,800 per terminal per month (as of 2007). Many exchanges charge their own additional fees for access to real time price feeds across the terminal. The same applies to various news organizations.


The terminal implements a client-server architecture with the server running on a multiprocessor UNIX platform. The client, used by the end users to interact with the system is a Windows application. End users can also make use of an extra service ("Bloomberg Anywhere ℠") that allows Web access to this Windows application via a Citrix client. There is also a WAP portal, BlackBerry application, Windows Mobile application, and iPhone application to allow mobile access. The server side of the terminal has been developed using mostly the Fortran and C programming languages. Recent years have seen a shift in focus towards C++, and an embedded scripting engine on both client and server side. Each server machine runs multiple instances of the server process. Using a proprietary form of a context switching the servers keep track of the state of each end user, allowing user interaction to be handled by different server processes. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) code is also proprietary.

Bloomberg Keyboard

Although the look and feel of the Bloomberg keyboard is very similar to the standard computer keyboard, there are several enhancements that help a user navigate through the system. Keys on the keyboard are always referred to inside angle brackets, and owing to the fact that the system pre-dates the standardization of the IBM keyboard in the mid 1980's, a number of standard PC keys have non-standard names. For example, the "Esc" key now common to all keyboards is referred to as in the Bloomberg system, and the "Enter" key is always referred to as . Crucially, the Bloomberg keyboard includes a unique key, which serves a similar function to the "back" button in an internet browser.

The yellow hot keys along the top of the keyboard are used to enter Market sectors, and must be used to allow the terminal to correctly identify a security.

  • GOVT - Government (US Treasury and non-US Government securities)
  • CORP - Corporate Debt
  • MTGE - Mortgage Securities
  • M-Mkt - Money market
  • MUNI - Municipal Debt
  • PFD - Preferred Shares
  • EQUITY - Equity Shares
  • COMDTY - Commodity Markets
  • INDEX - Indices
  • CURNCY - Currency Markets

For example, to call up Vodafone stock, one enters VOD LN Where VOD is the company's ticker, and LN is the venue code for London. Similarly, USDEUR will bring up the US Dollar / Euro exchange rate.

The Terminal, and related Products

Originally a self-contained operating system running on custom hardware, the Bloomberg Terminal now functions as an application within the Windows environment. From a user's perspective, there are essentially 3 distinct levels to the system:

  • The Core Terminal.

This is the original system, consisting typically of 4 windows, each containing a separate instance of the terminal command line. By entering tickers and functions, data can be displayed and programs run to analyze it. This seemingly large number of windows allows users to call up several entirely different sets of data, and compare it quickly; for those users who have more than one computer display, each terminal window can be assigned independently, creating, in effect, four terminals.

  • Launchpad

Launchpad is a customizable 'heads-up display' (HUD) consisting of a number of smaller windows, called 'components', each of which dedicated to permanently displaying one set of data. A typical user would be a stockbroker who wishes to keep a list of 30 stocks visible at all times: Launchpad creates a small component which will show these prices constantly, saving the broker from having to check each stock independently in the terminal. It can be toggled on-or-off by hitting the key. Other functions, such as email inboxes, calculation tools and news tickers can be similarly displayed. The Instant Bloomberg messaging/chat tool is actually a Launchpad component, as are the chat windows it creates.

  • Application Programming Interface

The final level of the Bloomberg system is the ability to export data from the Terminal to 3rd party applications, such as Microsoft Excel. A user might wish to use Bloomberg data from the terminal to create his-or-her own calculations : by exporting the live data into another program, they can build these formulae. Bloomberg supports this through a range of 'add-ins' which are packaged with the terminal software.


Leading competitors for electronic financial data provision include Thomson Reuters with the Reuters 3000 Xtra products family, FactSet Research Systems, and Dow Jones.


Bloomberg LP. 2001. Bloomberg Basic Manual

See also

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