The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer system provided by Bloomberg L.P. that enables professionals in finance and other industries to access the Bloomberg Professional service through which users can monitor and analyze real-time financial market data and place trades on the electronic trading platform. The system also provides news, price quotes, and messaging across its proprietary secure network. Most large financial firms have subscriptions to the Bloomberg Professional service. Many exchanges charge their own additional fees for access to real time price feeds across the terminal. The same applies to various news organizations. All Bloomberg Terminals are leased in two-year cycles (in the late 90's and early 2000s, three year contracts were an option), with leases originally based on how many displays were connected to each terminal (this predates the move to Windows based hardware). Most Bloomberg setups have between two and six displays. It is available for an annual fee of $20,000 per user ($24,000 per year for the small number of firms that use only one terminal). As of May 2010, there were 315,000 Bloomberg Terminal subscribers worldwide.
Each server machine runs multiple instances of the server process. Using a proprietary form of context-switching, the servers keep track of the state of each end user, allowing consecutive interactions from a single user to be handled by different server processes. The graphical user interface (GUI) code is also proprietary.
Michael Bloomberg's 1997 autobiography contains a chapter entitled "Computers for Virgins", which explains the differences in the design of the terminal and its keyboard from the standard IBM PC keyboard layout that was popular at that time. The terminal's keyboard layout was designed for traders and market makers who had no prior computer experience. While the look and feel of the Bloomberg keyboard is very similar to the standard computer keyboard, there are several enhancements that help users navigate through the system, from the idea for a user friendly system when originally designed in the early 1980s.
Commands for the keyboard are commonly referred to inside angle brackets. The keys were replaced from the technical name (e.g. F10) and the then standard beige color, opting for a user friendly name and a memorable color, in this example for a lookup on an Index with a yellow key. Another example, the "Esc" for most computer keyboards is referred to as red colored <CANCEL> key in the Bloomberg system, with the red to catch one's eye to stop a task. The "Enter" key is referred to as <GO> with a green color, deriving from the Monopoly game board, by passing "Go" and collecting $200 in a hope that the user could make money on the information he would find (hence the green key.) 
Crucially, the Bloomberg keyboard includes a unique <MENU> key, which serves a similar function to the "back" button in a web 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 securities (US treasury and non-US)
- CORP - corporate debt
- MTGE - mortgage securities
- M-Mkt - money market
- MUNI - municipal debt
- PFD - preferred shares
- EQUITY - equity shares
- COMDTY - commodity markets
- INDEX - indexes
- CURNCY - currency markets
For example, if someone is interested in the Vodafone stock listed in the London market, one enters VOD LN <Equity> <GO> where VOD is the company's ticker, and LN is the venue code for London. A detailed option list related to Vodafone UK stock will pop up, the person can then choose different options by pressing related keys or using the mouse to select the option.
Similarly, USDEUR <Curncy> <GO> displays the US dollar / Euro exchange rate.
Other common Bloomberg commands for Equity:
- HP - Display the detailed 1 year price of that stock
- DVD - Dividend / Split Summary of that stock
- CACS - Corporate Actions related to that stock
- CN - News feeds related to that stock
Thus, if someone interested in the Vodafone UK stock price, they can in fact directly type in VOD LN <Equity> HP <GO>.
The Bloomberg keyboard is heavier and sturdier than standard keyboards (the current version, SEA100 Bloomberg keyboard weighed around 3 kg) with 3mm key travel and 19mm key pitch; it also comes with built-in speakers for multimedia features. The current SEA100 version, as well as the previous version has built-in, 500 PPI, 0.26 sq inch biometric sensor to ensure the terminal remains to the registered user alone.
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Self-contained operating system running on custom hardware—commonly referred to as a "Bloomberg Box"—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:
This is the original system, consisting typically of 4 windows or "Panels", 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. These multiple windows allows users to call up several entirely different sets of data and compare it quickly. Users can run all four windows on a single monitor or spread them out amongst many monitors, maximizing each to create, in effect, up to 4 Terminals.
In February 2012, Bloomberg LP publicly announced an upgrade to the Terminal called "Bloomberg NEXT". The stated goals of this multi-year, $100M project were to improve the discoverability and usability of the Core Terminal's functionality, making it easier and more intuitive to use.
Launchpad is a customizable display consisting of a number of smaller windows, called 'components', each 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. In old days, launchpad could have been toggled on or off by hitting the <LPAD> key, however, the new keyboards do not have such functionality anymore. Other functions, such as email inboxes, calculation tools and news tickers can be similarly displayed. The Instant Bloomberg messaging/chat tool is a Launchpad component, as are the chat windows it creates. To launch a normal function from the Bloomberg Terminal's 4 Screens into launchpad type LLP and press enter on the target screen you wish to turn into a launchpad item.
Application programming interface
The Bloomberg Open API (BLPAPI) application programming interface (API) allows third-party applications, such as Microsoft Excel, to access Bloomberg data via the Terminal and Bloomberg's market data products. A user might wish to use Bloomberg data from the Terminal to create their own calculations; by accessing streaming, historical, and reference market data from another program, they can build these formulae. The Bloomberg Terminal installation ships with Excel add-ins which facilitate building spreadsheets which consume market data. In addition, the MIT licensed BLPAPI SDK allows Bloomberg subscribers to build their own software which accesses market data in C, C++, Java, Python and Perl from Windows, Linux, and Solaris.
The largest competitor to the Bloomberg terminal is Thomson Reuters with its Eikon platform with Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters splitting 30% each of the market share in 2011. This was a major improvement for Bloomberg as the share in 2007 was Bloomberg's 26% to Reuters' 36%. Other major competitors include SIX Financial Information, Morningstar Direct, Markit, Zacks Investment Research, FactSet Research Systems, Capital IQ, PrivateRaise.com, Advantage Data Inc, Fidessa and Dow Jones. According to Burton-Taylor International Consulting, the market for financial data and analytics was worth almost $25 billion as of 2011.
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- This is how much a Bloomberg terminal costs
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- "Bloomberg Software Support". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- "Open API". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Flamm, Matthew (2012-02-23). "Bloomberg LP beats Thomson Reuters". Crain's New York Business. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
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