Parachutes lowered the risk of flight, encouraging innovation in flying. In 1782, the Montgolfier brothers launched the first hot air balloon from the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette — the last of the French aristocracy who would be beheaded during the revolution — watched as the balloon lifted … Continue reading "Parachute"
- Franchising & Cross-Marketing
Before McDonald’s King Ray Kroc was born Martha Harper built an enormous franchise empire. At a time few women worked in business, much less founded and owned them, she developed two vital strategic moves. Harper created cross-marketing, the concept where that stores with one purpose can sell related products. Specifically, she created hair salons to … Continue reading "Franchising & Cross-Marketing"
- Social Network
When they’re not rigging elections, sowing discord, or amplifying hate social networks are a fun, simple, and convenient way to stay in touch. However, they suffer serious privacy issues under current implementations. Electronic social networks, in various forms, are older than Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The first online bulletin-board enabling people to chat and hang … Continue reading "Social Network"
- Modern Management (Wedgwood)
Modern management, marketing, and high-end sales to ordinary people make pottery company Wedgwood a management innovator. Pottery dates back to ancient times. Fragments of pottery in China date back 20,000 years. Since then, for the most part, wherever archeologists find people they also find pottery. Therefore, opening a pottery manufacturer, especially in the 1700s, intuitively … Continue reading "Modern Management (Wedgwood)"
- Tetraethyllead (Leaded Gasoline)
Leaded gasoline prevented engine ping, making driving safer and more pleasant. Correspondingly, it also caused an enormous amount of extremely toxic pollution. Working for GM under the direct supervision of Charles Kettering at Dayton Research Laboratory, Midgley discovered the benefits of adding lead to gasoline. They named their innovation Tetraethyllead, avoiding any mention of lead, … Continue reading "Tetraethyllead (Leaded Gasoline)"
- Electronic Cipher (Enigma)
Enigma is a cipher, a machine that implements an algorithm to encrypt and decrypt messages. On Feb. 23, 1918, Scherbius applied for his first patent for what would become the most well-known cipher machine in history, the Enigma. Initially marketed for commercial purposes the German army modified a version for military encryption in 1926. Nazis … Continue reading "Electronic Cipher (Enigma)"
- Battery (Voltaic Pile)
This was the first reliable and predictable source of electricity, a battery that generated its own power. It led to many future innovations. Most notable is the telegraph, that relied on voltaic piles as a power source. During the Civil War, wagons filled with giant batteries deployed to the front lines and powered telegraphs. Volta’s … Continue reading "Battery (Voltaic Pile)"
Count von Zeppelin, inventor of the airship, partnered with a group of other German industrialists to create a Zeppelin manufacturing company and also an airline. Airships Their first airship, the enormous LZ1, launched July 2, 1900. It crashed and survived but the test was not successful for the German government to invest more funds in … Continue reading "Airline"
Asphalt increased the utility or roads by allowing horses to travel faster, carriages and bicycles ride more smoothly, and (later) enabled cars. Natural asphalt paved the Champs-Élysées in 1824. However, it was unstable and difficult to maintain. de Smedt created an artificial asphalt, manufactured from oil, that was more consistent and manageable than natural asphalt. … Continue reading "Asphalt"
- Floppy Disk
Floppy disks allowed inexpensive, portable storage of digital information. Floppies were faster, more flexible, more convenient, and lower cost than tape drives. Floppy drives made computers simpler to use, more convenient and increased productivity for computer operators who did not have to load tapes. Noble invented the floppy disk as an IBM engineer. His first … Continue reading "Floppy Disk"
- Console Gaming Systems
Console game systems are specialized computers that play games. Ralph Baer came up with the idea of a video-game system that connects to televisions in 1966. Magnavox agreed to manufacture and distribute his seventh prototype, in 1971, branded the Odyssey. Magnavox sold about 350,000 units, at the then steep price of $100, before discontinuing it … Continue reading "Console Gaming Systems"
- Washing Machine
Before washing machines, wealthier families hired maids or brought their laundry to cleaners. Most people did laundry by hand, a time-consuming process usually tasked to women. Washing machines dramatically lowered the cost of washing clothes while increasing cleanliness. A patent issued to Fisher on Aug. 9, 1910, for an electric washing machine. Many people claim … Continue reading "Washing Machine"
- 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 … Continue reading "Reasonably Priced Business Computer (IBM/360)"
In 1945, Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler created a garage-based manufacturing business. They named it by combining their first names, Mattel. First, they manufactured picture frames. Using the leftover pieces of wood, Elliot built dollhouses that sold well. Soon, Matson dropped out of the business leaving it solely owned by Handler and his wife, … Continue reading "Barbie"
- Privatized Space
Private space companies launch rockets that propel satellites (and eventually, people) into space without government funds or bureaucracy. Leaving government out of space removes political influence, simplifies space commercialization, and reduces costs. Elon Musk Elon Musk has a fondness for starting businesses that do the impossible. At first, there was PayPal. At that time, … Continue reading "Privatized Space"