V.10:10 (407-413): First Citizen Of Technical Analysis: Arthur Merrill by Thom Hartle

V.10:10 (407-413): First Citizen Of Technical Analysis: Arthur Merrill by Thom Hartle
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First Citizen Of Technical Analysis: Arthur Merrill by Thom Hartle

Arthur A. Merrill, currently of Merrill Analysis and Analysis Press and previously of Technical Trends, drew his first bar chart in 1930. His first, earliest calculations were made on slide rule, long before the pocket calculator or indeed the personal computer became a matter of course. Who else has had a chance to watch the markets evolve quite the way that Art Merrill has? Who else has experience quite like his to learn from? Stocks & Commodities interviewed Art Merrill on July 27, 1992, inquiring about today's markets compared with yesterday's and whether statistical analysis has ever steered him wrong.

So, Art, tell us about your early work with the stock market and technical analysis.

Well, I was first inspired by R.W. Schabacker's Stock Market Theory and Practice. It had many of the stock formations that were described in more detail 18 years later by Edwards and Magee. I drew my first bar charts in 1930. The next year, Humphrey Neill's book Tape Reading and Market Tactics added fuel to the technical fire.

Did you keep everything by hand yourself?

Yes. All my data and calculations were made by hand, and I kept up my charts by hand. I made the earliest calculations by slide rule. From the slide rule, I progressed through the manual calculator, then the electric calculator, then the pocket calculator—I think I bought the first commercial model; it was the size of a carton of cigarettes and cost $300—then the programmable calculator with printer, then the computer, first with audiocassette storage, then diskette, and finally hard drive. It was quite a progression! While I have never used it, I have an abacus now hanging behind my computer labeled "backup."

Did you develop a feel for what was happening in the markets?

It was more a visual impression than a feel. A line chart can tell you at a glance about the support and resistance levels and the trend direction.

Is that lost today with the reliance on computers?

Not necessarily. The computer is a helpful tool, but I don't make any decisions until I see the output in chart form.

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