Help - History of EDGAR

EDGAR Online & The SEC's EDGAR Filing System

EDGAR Online is the highest traffic Web-based provider of real-time SEC filings. Through our various web based products we offer easy access to many resources that allow both professional and individual investors the ability to extract and manage the valuable information found in the SEC’s EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval) filings. EDGAR Pro is a privately held service by EDGAR Online. The SEC’s EDGAR system is government-run and supplies filings to EDGAR Online for distribution over the Internet.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was founded in 1933 to provide safeguards to protect investors in the American stock market from the kinds of practices that resulted in the crash of 1929. Since its inception, the SEC has developed regulations for publicly held corporations based on the premise that full disclosure (including all negative factors) of public companies' business and financial status produces a fluid non-manipulative market.

Public companies must file the following reports with the SEC:

Originally SEC filings were submitted on paper and were available only by paper copy. In the 1970's, the SEC contracted with an outside company to create and distribute microfiche copies to designated SEC public reference rooms. Obtaining copies of these documents was cumbersome and expensive. An individual had to either make hard copies one page at a time in the reference rooms or order copies from service bureaus whom in turn had to make and sell hard copies as requested. In short, immediate access was virtually impossible except at extremely high cost.

In 1984, the SEC allocated $30 million to start the EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering Analysis and Retrieval) pilot program. Its purpose was to create an electronically accessible database providing a more efficient and less costly method whereby the investing public could get the information it needed. A gradual phase-in schedule was established mandating public corporations to file SEC documents electronically. As of fall 1995, more than 92% of all public companies were filing with EDGAR.

Since May of 1996, all reporting companies have been required to file electronically. This new method of filing has enormous implications for the investment community because once a document is filed, the information is immediately available to anyone who has the computer capacity to "talk" to the EDGAR database.

Print Help Print Help Download Quick Start PDF Quick Start Guide