When the Securities and Exchange Commission eliminated the practice of fixed brokerage commissions on May 1, 1975, none of the major brokerage firms at the time thought anyone would ‘break ranks’ and offer discounted commissions. But, a handful of small firms, including First Omaha Securities, Inc., saw a unique opportunity. First Omaha Securities evolved into TD Ameritrade, and for over 40 years has remained a pioneer in an industry that continues to innovate new ways that make Wall Street more accessible to the individual investor.
In the 1980s and 1990s, TD Ameritrade pioneered a number of ‘firsts,’ leveraging technology to make investing easier, faster, and more efficient. In 1988, the company was the first to offer touch-tone phone trading. And, in 1995 it acquired K. Aufhauser & Co., which was credited with executing the first online trade in 1994. Following its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in March 1997, the company combined its various brokerage units into one broker dealer, Ameritrade, Inc., and launched its first national advertising campaign, complete with a pricing philosophy that continues today.
Between 1998 and 1999, Ameritrade helped grow and improve the online trading experience for self-directed investors. The company started offering online options order entry and electronic trade confirmations via email. These innovations, along with extended-hours trading, the Ameritrade Online Investor Index™ (one of the first online investor behavior measuring tools), and trading via the SprintPCSSM Wireless Web, the first of its kind via mobile device, helped keep Ameritrade at the forefront of a booming industry.
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