by Thom Hartle
In the early 1980s I was a commodity broker, and back then, commodity traders and commodity brokers
performed an afternoon ritual of updating charts. Every day, I would sit there and call up quotes on my
Quotron and carefully plot the day's activities on my charts. Even though I was employed at the world's
largest brokerage firm, this was still the only way to keep informed on the technical status of the markets
that I followed.
While this process was obviously tedious, there was an advantage. I became very aware of what markets
were doing, plus I began to get a feel for market behavior (that of Treasury bond futures in particular).
We didn't have computers and software available to us that could plot and test indicators and screen the
markets for trading signals the way we do now.
Believe it or not, hand-plotting daily market activities may not have been that much of a disadvantage. It's
quite possible that a lot of the investors and traders today who clamor for indicators and trading systems
and who want to automate everything are losing sight of the fact that it's a market you're trading, not the
moving average or relative strength index or whatever, and consequently, you can fail to develop a
thorough understanding of how the markets work. Well, Ed Seykota of Technical Tools (TT) has brought
the markets to front and center with the ChartBook System, the software package that comes free with
their data service. But before I discuss the software, let's look at the data service.
THE DATA SERVICE
In its data service, Technical Tools provides daily end-of-day data plus historical data for stocks, futures,
CRB indices, cash markets such as metals, agriculture, currencies and market averages. Daily stock and
futures data are provided on the day, while some of the cash and market averages, such as the Dow Jones
averages, are delivered one day late.