Automate or perish – has it come to this?

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Robots made by Kiva Systems move product shelves on a warehouse floor.

Author and entrepreneur Christopher Steiner tells the story of stockbroker Thomas Peterffy, the creator of the first automated Wall Street trading system in the new book due next month, Automate This. Using a computer to execute trades, without humans entering them manually on a keyboard, was controversial in 1987—so controversial that Nasdaq pressured him to unplug from its network. Then, with a wink, Peterffy built an automated machine that could tap out the trades on a traditional keyboard—technically obeying Nasdaq rules. Peterffy made $25 million in 1987 and is now a billionaire.

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