A company's abbreviation is called its ticker symbol. Because it is too time consuming to list the entire name of each company along with its stock price, the names of companies are shortened.
The modern form of ticker symbols was developed by Standard & Poor's and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Association of Securities Dealers and the various stock exchanges. Originally, all stock symbols traded on the exchanges had no more than three letters, while those that traded over the counter or on the NASDAQ had four or five letters. The rules changed in 1997, as companies with shorter ticker symbols began to trade in the over-the-counter network as well as on the exchanges. Some companies pick symbols that form a word related to their business. Sun Microsystems' ticker symbol, for example, is JAVA, one of its main software programs.