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What is the Bloomberg Terminal?

Bobby A. Stocks Jr.
Bobby A. Stocks Jr.

A Bloomberg terminal is a high-powered personal computer linked to an information service that provides real time financial data on stock prices, values, and other financial information. The Bloomberg terminal was designed by Michael Bloomberg in 1982. Structurally, it consists of two very slim LCD displays and a custom keyboard, including special financial market keys across the top. Its functions rely on a subscription known as Bloomberg Professional Service—a service to which any consumer can subscribe. Common consumers include governments, banks, investment firms, and even the Vatican.

The financial capabilities of the Bloomberg terminal exceed that of typical personal computer devices available to the common consumer. Through the Professional Service, a user can access information on specific stocks, companies, hedge funds, index funds, and other financial entities. This data is organized in a fully customizable format. Tools built into the device normally allow the subscriber to analyze and execute transactions without relying on third parties.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

The Bloomberg Terminal consists of two adjustable displays. They are typically arranged side by side, but have the ability to stack and rotate between portrait and landscape views. The keyboard was designed to allow access to all of the features of the device with ease. This interface allows the user to view the value of foreign currency, net equity, mortgage rates, and information on the private and government sector without the use of menus or dialog boxes.

The features of the terminal rely on a subscription to the Bloomberg Professional Service. Subscriptions typically are paid monthly, and can be quite costly. For this reason, most customers are financial professionals with a vested interest in the information the system provides. They can make financial trades, watch real-time market activity, and research stocks and companies. Other features include a fingerprint scanner and the ability to communicate with other Bloomberg terminal users over a microphone. Common consumers of the Bloomberg terminal include banks, investment companies, news organizations, law firms and government offices.

Some colleges and universities also utilize the Bloomberg terminal—not only to educate, but also to help provide their students with an edge after graduation when they hit the job market. A student with real-world experience with the terminal in addition to a degree may be a more attractive candidate to many employers in the financial market.

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