Open main menu

Bloomberg Terminal

The Bloomberg Terminal is a computer software system provided by the financial data vendor Bloomberg L.P. that enables professionals in the financial service sector 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.[1] The system also provides news, price quotes, and messaging across its proprietary secure network. It is well-known among the financial community for its black interface, which is not optimized for user experience but has become a recognizable trait of the service.[2] The first version of the terminal was released in December 1982.

Bloomberg Terminal
Bloomberg Terminal at London City Airport
Bloomberg Terminal at London City Airport
Developer(s)Bloomberg L.P.
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
Other systems (using Citrix Receiver)
TypeElectronic trading
Financial software
WebsiteOfficial website

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 1990s and early 2000s, three-year contracts were an option), with leases originally based on how many displays were connected to each terminal (this predated the move to Windows-based application). Most Bloomberg setups have between two and six displays. It is available for an annual fee of $20,000 per user ($25,080 per year for the small number of firms that use only one terminal).[3] As of October 2016, there were 325,000 Bloomberg Terminal subscribers worldwide.[4]


In 1981, the businessman Michael Bloomberg was let go from Salomon Brothers with a $10 million severance check. In 1982, Bloomberg started a company named Innovative Market Systems, and originally called the Market Master. In December 1982, 20 units of the Market Master were sold to Merrill Lynch for trading. Until the late eighties, Bloomberg only sold terminals to Merrill Lynch because of a contract between them.

In 1990, the Bloomberg keyboard was released with a trackball and built-in voice-chat features. In 1991, the first color edition of the terminal was released.

Recently, the hardware aspect of the terminal is now only a series of accessories. Some of those accessories are a custom keyboard with special keys, a fingerprint scanner, and a dual-screen display.[5]


Sales from the Bloomberg terminal account for more than 85 percent of Bloomberg L.P.'s annual revenue.[6] The financial data vendor's proprietary computer system starts at $22,500 per user per year.


A Bloomberg terminal with a multi-monitor set-up composed of six screens.

The terminal implements a client-server architecture with the server running on a multiprocessor Unix platform. The client, used by end users to interact with the system, is a Windows application that typically connects directly through a router provided by Bloomberg and installed on-site. End users can also make use of an extra service (Bloomberg Anywhere) to allow the Windows application to connect via internet/IP, or Web access via a Citrix client. There are also applications that allow mobile access via Android, BlackBerry, and iOS. The server side of the terminal was originally developed using mostly the programming languages Fortran and C. Recent years have seen a transition towards C++ and embedded JavaScript on the clients and servers.[citation needed]

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. The look and feel of the Bloomberg keyboard is very similar to an ordinary computer keyboard, with several enhancements which help users navigate through the system.

Keyboard keys are commonly referred to inside angle brackets with full commands being contained in curly brackets  e.g., {VOD LN Equity GO}. The function key names and then-standard beige colour of an ordinary keyboard were changed from the technical name, e.g., F10, to a memorable colour and name, e.g., Yellow. The F10 key is thus a Yellow key named Index. The Esc is coloured red and named Cancel 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.[7]

The Bloomberg keyboard includes a unique ≣ Menu key which navigates back to the previous function used. If no previous commands are found, ≣ Menu displays a list of related functions. Similarly, the History key will populate the command-line with previously used functions in reverse chronological order, as the key function does in certain command prompts.

The yellow hotkeys along the top of the keyboard are used to enter market sectors, and are generally used as suffixes to allow the terminal to correctly identify a security.

An early 2000s Bloomberg terminal keyboard
  • F2 GOVT – government securities (U.S. treasury and non-U.S.)
  • F3 CORP – corporate debt
  • F4 MTGE – mortgage securities
  • F5 M-Mkt – money market
  • F6 MUNI – municipal debt
  • F7 PFD – preferred shares
  • F8 EQUITY – equity shares
  • F9 COMDTY – commodity markets
  • F10 INDEX – indexes
  • F11 CURNCY – currency markets
  • F12 CLIENT/ALPHA – portfolio functionality

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 symbol, LN is the venue code for London, and Equity is the market sector. 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 U.S. dollar–Euro exchange spot rate.

Other common Bloomberg commands for Equity include:

  • {HP <GO>} – Historical Price – Display the detailed historical price of the currently loaded stock
  • {DVD <GO>} – Dividend / Split Summary of the currently loaded stock
  • {CACS <GO>} – Corporate Actions related to the currently loaded stock
  • {CN <GO>} – Company News – News related to the currently loaded stock

Thus, if someone interested in the historical Vodafone UK stock price, they can directly type in {VOD LN <Equity> HP <GO>}.

The Bloomberg keyboard has traditionally been heavier and sturdier than standard keyboards (a previous version, the 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 SEA100 version has a built-in, 500 PPI, 0.26 sq inch biometric sensor for user login verification. The current Starboard (Keyboard 4) version is 1.08 kg and uses flatter, chiclet-style keys which are quieter and have less key travel than Freeboard (Keyboard 3) and prior.

Terminal and related productsEdit

Self-contained operating system running on custom hardware—commonly referred to as a Bloomberg Box[8]—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:

Core TerminalEdit

Core Terminal refers to the original Bloomberg system; typically consisting of four windows, or Panels, each Panel contains a separate instance of the terminal command line. As the user enters tickers and functions, they can call up and display the real-time data of the market, with each different screen simultaneously running a program to analyze other tickers, functions, values and markets in real time. This use of multiple screens with user-demanded, specific pieces of differing data—across all relevant markets—allows the user to view diverse and countless volumes of information in real-time. Accessing market data, as it develops, allows the user to make trades and investments in all markets across the world, without having any lag in information. Users can run all four windows on a single monitor or spread them out amongst many monitors, maximizing the information shown on each, to effectually create up to four terminals.

In February 2012, Bloomberg LP publicly announced an upgrade to the Terminal called Bloomberg NEXT. The stated goals of this multi-year, $100 million project were to improve the discoverability and usability of the Core Terminal's functionality, making it easier and more intuitive to use.[9]


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 allows the user to create a small component which will show these prices constantly, saving the user from having to check each stock independently in the 4 terminal windows. To turn on Launchpad the command {BLP <GO>} is used, {PDFB<GO>} allows users to set Lpad to open automatically on login. Older keyboards had an <Lpad> key which replicated the {BLP<GO>} command. 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<GO>} from the target screen you wish to turn into a launchpad item.

Application programming interfaceEdit

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.[10] In addition, Bloomberg offers free BLPAPI SDKs allowing Bloomberg subscribers to build their own software which accesses market data in Wolfram Language, C, C++, Java, .NET, Perl, and Python, on Windows, Linux, macOS, and Solaris.[11]


The largest competitor to the Bloomberg terminal is Thomson Reuters with its Reuters 3000 Xtra system, which was replaced by Eikon platform in 2010, 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 Money.Net, SIX Financial Information, Markit, FactSet Research Systems, Capital IQ, Fidessa and Dow Jones. According to Burton-Taylor International Consulting,[12] the market for financial data and analytics was worth almost $25 billion as of 2011.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bloomberg Professional". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2017.
  2. ^ Leca, Dominique. "The Impossible Bloomberg Makeover". UX. Archived from the original on May 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "This is how much a Bloomberg terminal costs". Archived from the original on October 1, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "Bloomberg company information". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on October 13, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  5. ^ McCracken, Harry (October 6, 2015). "How the Bloomberg Terminal Made History–And Stays Ever Relevant". Fast Company. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "Inside the Bloomberg Machine". Wall Street and Technology. Archived from the original on January 5, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  7. ^ Bloomberg by Bloomberg, Michael R. Bloomberg 1997
  8. ^ Lowry, Tom (April 23, 2001). "The Bloomberg Machine". BusinessWeek. McGraw-Hill. Archived from the original on October 22, 2009. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  9. ^ Edgecliffe-Johnson, Andrew (February 27, 2012). "Bloomberg to reveal data service redesign". Financial Times. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  10. ^ "Bloomberg Software Support". Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on May 17, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "Open API". Bloomberg L.P. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  12. ^ Flamm, Matthew (February 23, 2012). "Bloomberg LP beats Thomson Reuters". Crain's New York Business. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2012.

External linksEdit