ACCESS: WWW: http://town.hall.org/edgar/edgar.html

Detailed financial information has come to the Internet in the form of EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval). This controversial database presently contains over 8300 annual and quarterly reports (8-K, 10-K, 10-Q, N-SAR, etc.) filed electronically with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) by publicly-traded companies. Over the next two years approximately 15,000 companies will file electronic reports. The Internet version of EDGAR is currently maintained by the New York University School of Business, along with the Internet Multicasting Service, through a two-year NSF grant.

Though growing, EDGAR is actually not intended as a permanent database; the service will discontinue upon expiration of its grant after 1995. Rather, the purpose of EDGAR is to demonstrate the feasibility of archiving and distributing large data collections at reasonable cost over the Internet.

The best access point for EDGAR is World Wide Web, using a sophisticated browser such as Mosaic, which permits online, keyword searching. A resourceful alternative is through Washburn University Law School's telnet site at:


Login as washlaw and go to the Federal Government Information/(EDGAR)SEC Filings directory. Regardless of access method, users should expect to wait as long as 5-10 minutes for retrieval of EDGAR's large (up to 1 Mb) data and index files.

EDGAR is also available directly via ftp and e-mail from:


To ftp records of individual US companies, first download the index file, /edgar/full-index/company.idx, to determine each report's unique numerical identifier. Searchers should also retrieve the help file, general.txt, in the /edgar directory. Note that many gophers allow searching of ftp sites, with the opportunity to retrieve files via gopher-mail (e.g. marvel.loc.gov in the Internet Resources/Archie and FTP directory).

To mail the company index send the following message to mail@town.hall.org:

send edgar/company.idx

After identifying specific companies, request individual reports with the message:

send edgar/data1/xxx/xxx.txt

where xxx represents a multi-digit code from the index. To retrieve just one or a few records, the search command provides the most efficient method for identifying file names. As with gopher, wais and www, Search allows keyword and boolean queries. Send as mail, for example:

search Douglas and McDonnell

to find several pages of report identifiers for the McDonnell Douglas Corporation.

Regardless of difficulty, EDGAR boasts high usage. As of March up to 20,000 documents are transferred each week, amounting to over 17 gigabytes of data. System administrators believe the service will eventually reach 200,000 users. But this success must be measured by the realization that EDGAR serves primarily as a demonstration project, not as an archival treasure chest.

Larry Schankman
Mansfield University, Main Library
April 29, 1994

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