Bing Newcomb, a computer programmer who co-founded the electronic trading platform E*Trade, passed away at age 79. His innovative code changed the game for stock trading and turned him into a multimillionaire.
Newcomb was born in 1943 in Scio, Oregon into a working-class family. Born with clouded vision caused by congenital cataracts, the young Newcomb began attending the Oregon School for the Blind. However, his dedication to academia was unmatched and, by high school, Newcomb was his class valedictorian. He then left his small-town home to attend Oregon State University, becoming the first in his family to attend college.
After college, Newcomb hired himself out as a freelance computer programmer, tutoring banks and other businesses in emerging digital technologies. His technical prowess introduced him to William A. Porter, a former cowboy who had just purchased an Apple II personal computer. Together they created TradePlus, and, with $15,000 in capital, launched one of the first electronic trading platforms in 1983.
By enabling individuals to trade stocks from personal computers, TradePlus grew into a leader in online stock transactions and laid the foundations for the development of E*Trade. After the market tanked in the mid-1980s, the company re-emerged in 1991 as E-Trade Securities and, in 1994, generated $11 million in revenue. The company’s success was capitalized on in 1996 when it went public as E*Trade Group.
Newcomb, who had been the company’s chief system architect, retired with 2.4 million shares of the company in 1997. This success spurred generosity by the magnate, who donated millions to Oregon State University, the All May See Foundation, and the Bernie and Gerry Newcomb Center for Innovative Eye Surgery at the University of California. He was even known to ride his bicycle with a flashlight taped to the handlebars before the stock market opened in New York.
Ultimately, Bing Newcomb’s code transformed the way individuals invest and inspired the creation of a new generation of stock traders. His tenacity, hard work, and passion for technological development will be remembered by the trading community.