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Back to the Future of Trading

Adam Sheldon Reinvents Keyboard Trading

October 2012

Traders are often divided into two camps: point and click traders and automated traders. And, when we think of the future of trading, we focus on topics like colocation, microseconds, server hosting and direct market access. But what if you want to apply human discretion and want faster speeds, instead of using a fully automated system? That’s the question Adam Sheldon, a 38-year old gold trader, found himself asking a few years ago. Adam was a successful trader, but he felt that point and click trading with a mouse was suboptimal for very active trading styles. By clicking, he could only submit trading functionality sequentially—buy this, sell that, increase this position, decrease the price of that order, etc. Moreover, he wasn’t able to execute multiple trades in multiple markets in an efficient manner. To address these issues, Adam developed the idea for Keyboard Trader-the first product from his company, Bionic Trader Systems. “Programmable keyboards did exist and had for a long time, but they were never presented to the trading world in a way that made sense,” he explained. “What if the keyboard could be developed from the ground up and was customized specifically for futures traders?”

Adam developed Keyboard Trader initially as a tool to enhance his own trading experience. Using his trader’s intuition to guide the development, he looked for patterns in his trading style and repetitive actions that could be lumped together. By programming macros for individual keys, Adam was able to perform trading tasks that might have taken multiple clicks all with one keystroke. He also optimized the layout of the keyboard–which keys should be grouped together and how best to split the workload between his hands for faster speeds.

As Keyboard Trader went from concept to production, Adam realized it could provide a valuable tool for many futures traders looking to improve their speed and execution performance. The system required multiple components, of which the most significant is the software. Keyboard Trader includes an impressive and very credible software package that works seamlessly with the Trading Technologies X_ TRADER API. In order for the software to be most effective, Bionic Trader Systems also offers programmable keyboards which are easily configurable for various trading styles, as well as over 300 customized trading keys. Put these components together, and you’ve got a powerful system for actively trading single or multiple products simultaneously, spread trading, and portfolio management.

In a world that is moving toward touch screens and automation, is an old-school keyboard (albeit re-engineered for the trading community) the next great development in futures trading? Either way, it is impressive to see how traders have evolved not only their trading, but are looking at ways to improve the entire trader experience.

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