April marks the 40th anniversary of CBOE and the options industry. As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, we’ve invited the CBOE community to share their memories of CBOE and four decades of options trading. These are their stories…
Pssst, Mr. Mayor, Those are Called Puts
When puts were being introduced (only calls were traded initially), Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic presided over the opening bell ceremony one morning at CBOE, signifying the opening of puts trading. Instead of calling these new options “puts,” he kept referring to them as “putz.” It was hysterical, and most tried not to laugh, but it was hard to control ourselves. Puts were known as “putz” for some time after that.
-JG, former CBOE employee, now with a firm
I Liked it So Much I Came Back
In 1980, right out of college, I started working for E.F. Hutton on the old floor of the CBOE. My position was floor runner and my salary was $600 a month. There wasn’t any formal job training. You were handed orders and told to run them out to the E.F. Hutton floor brokers in the trading pits. You just hoped they wouldn’t yell at you or ask you a question you couldn’t answer. I remember my wife asking how I liked my job. I told her it was like being in college but the people around you had more money.
I was promoted to trade checker and still remember my most humiliating day. I fell down the three steps into a pit before the opening. I landed face down with my favorite clipboard breaking in half making a crashing sound, drawing unwanted attention. As I scrambled back up, hoping no one I worked with saw me lying there, a broker standing in the pit asked me “Don’t you feel like a complete fool?”
After all those years on the trading floor I still can’t break the habit of eating my lunch in less than 2 minutes. The trading floor was not a kind or nurturing place back then but it was really fun to work on. I’ve watched the level of professionalism and commitment at the CBOE grow steadily since 1980. It’s great that the CBOE is as vital today as it ever was. I came back to the CBOE as an employee in 2005.
The Floor – Crazy
I was interviewed for a job at CBOE in late March, 1975. It was such an informal process compared to present day procedures. I remember being escorted on the floor to give prospective applicants a feel for what they were in for. Seeing hundreds of papers flying through the air and being delivered by “runners” to their destinations was a thing of wonder. At the time there was no realization by me that these paper orders represented hundreds of thousands of dollars circulating throughout the trading floor. Watching market makers & floor brokers yelling out bids/offers for various issues and turning in their “SELL-side” paper trades to be reported by PRTOs (price reporting terminal operators). How times have changed.