Edgar, the Securities and Exchange Commission's 1980's-era electronic database of public company filings, will be replaced by a faster, more user-friendly system called Interactive Data Electronic Applications, or IDEA, the agency announced today.

IDEA will use computer "tags" that work like bar codes to identify individual items on financial disclosures for corporations and mutual funds. The new system will individually label every number on thousands of forms filed with the SEC, and users will be able to collate and download information and put it into spreadsheets, databases and other comparative formats for interactive analysis

That promises to be a huge improvement over Edgar, which provides access to just one document at a time, requires users to sift through reams of data to find specific information, and doesn't have any interactive features.

At a news conference today, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said the new IDEA logo will immediately appear on the SEC's website, and that interactive data filings will be available on IDEA starting later this year. Edgar will still be accessible during the transition for an indefinite time.