Paid Cable Television Channels

Background Charles Dolan was a cable TV pioneer who received a license to build a cable television system in lower Manhattan. Due to New York City restrictions, cables needed to run underground, vastly increasing the cost of the infrastructure. New Yorkers lacked enthusiasm. By 1971, Dolan only had 400 subscribers. To increase sales, Dolan eventually […]

General Purpose Microprocessor

“…even though science and technology are wonderful, what really gets them out there for people to use is to have businesses built around them. It takes savvy businessmen as well as savvy technologists to make that work.” Tedd Hoff Background Ted Hoff had access to then state-of-the-art vacuum tube circuits in high school. In 1954, […]

Consumer Shared Computer Network (CompuServe)

CompuServe is the first computer network targeted towards ordinary people though it did not start out that way. Background Jeff Wilkins sold burglar alarms. His father-in-law ran a small insurance company and needed to buy a computer. However, the DEC model he wanted had far more computing power than his father required. Wilkins realized he […]

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Intrauterine Devices (IUD’s) are long-lasting passive birth control for women. Once inserted they work anywhere from ten years to life. IUD’s are the most common birth-control method in the world. Background IUD’s were first developed in 1909 by Richard Richter of Waldenburg, Germany. Ernst Gräfenberg also supported the devices. He is the doctor the “G-Spot” […]

Discount Airline

As the airline market developed, the US found it necessary to regulate interstate air transport as a “public utility.” Significantly, the “Civil Aeronautics Board” (CAB) regulated fares, routes, and schedules. The benefit of regulation was predictability and widespread routes. For example, a carrier that wanted to fly from New York to Chicago might be required […]

Reasonably Priced Business Computer (IBM/360)

The IBM/360 is the first mass computer, designed as a general-purpose computer affordable for mid-sized businesses yet powerful enough for large enterprises. Background In 1962, IBM’s revenue was $2.5 billion. CEO Thomas Watson Jr. believed in the vision of a general-purpose computer that supports timesharing, the ability of a computer to do multiple things at […]

Bullet Trains

Bullet trains are capable of travel at 300kph (186mph). They cost less to operate than aircraft and have a lower environmental impact. Japan invented bullet trains and started acquiring land for their super-fast train in the 1930s, before WWII. In 1959, they broke ground for the first bullet train, or Shinkansen as they’re called in […]

Cordless Tools

In 1895, C&E Fein, a German company, invented the first electric tool. It was a handheld drill weighing 16.5 pounds. The drill was underpowered because it ran on DC electricity. It also required two people to operate. In 1910, Duncan Black sold his car for $600 and used the funds to open a machine shop […]