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 […]

Just-In-Time Manufacturing

Just in time manufacturing delivers the parts required to complete a product shortly before they are needed. Accordingly, this vastly reduces inventory cost while typically increasing quality by aligning the manufacturing needs of part suppliers and the final manufacturer. Background Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno needed a better way to manufacture. Specifically, efficiency was low and […]

Rock & Roll

“If you’re not doing something different, you’re not doing anything.” Sam Phillips Background Billboard magazine started charting songs in 1940. Eventually, they divided songs into three categories, pop, country-and-western, and “race music.” Around 1949, race music was renamed rhythm and blues (R&B). Music sales were proprietary and closely guarded so Billboard based their charts off […]

Health Insurance

Background Germany has the oldest health insurance system, the Sickness Insurance Law of 1883. Employers paid one-third and employees two-thirds. The insurance covered both medical treatment and sick leave. In 1911, the UK created basic health insurance. Russia followed in 1912, nationalizing all healthcare after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Most countries rolled out some […]

Processed Foods with Statistical Quality Control

By design, countless food products look and taste exactly the same. Nobody opens a name-brand candy bar and wonders if it will taste different than any other bar they may have chosen. Each can of Coca Cola, Pepsi, or Guinness Beer tastes exactly the same as any other. All major food companies can thank Guinness […]

Modern Advertising

Before Albert Lasker advertisements tended to be crude, raising awareness or reinforcing a brand name. Many ads were not much more than offers to purchase something, with no overarching idea. Lasker used the emerging science of psychology and budding technology of radio to radically change advertising. Background Born in Germany, Lasker moved to the US […]

Margin Lending

Early History Building early railroads was an expensive undertaking and Americans were short liquid capital in the mid-1800s. To finance businesses in the early 1800s, people typically turned to broker Nicholas Biddle of Philadelphia who marketed sterling bonds from the UK. This funding mechanism dried-up with the failure of the Bank of the United States […]

Strategically Addictive Drugs

Background Cigarettes are addictive. However the availability of tobacco around the world, in the early 1800s, limited them as a mass-market item. Even the largest wind-powered ships contained limited space. Filling ships with enough tobacco to addict a whole country was not viable during this period. However, another product did fill this role, opium. Tobacco […]

Inexpensive Postage & Stamp

Penny postage refers to low-cost prepaid postage. Background By the early 1800s, postage was centuries old. But many postal carriers were essentially government couriers. They were extremely expensive. However, recipients could reject mail by refusing to pay. This made the entire system unpredictable and unstable. Furthermore, postal employees sometimes opened and read mail. Government censors […]

Easy Credit

Background Cyrus McCormick’s mechanical reaper revolutionalized agriculture. McCormick’s reaper enabled one man to harvest the same amount of grain in one day as he could in two weeks by hand. Since grain goes bad when not timely harvested, the reaper enabled farmers to plant far larger crops with commensurate profits. Additionally, the reaper lowered the […]