Stock Ticker / Ticker Tape

Both the ticker and ticker tape lowered the cost of transmitting stock prices by eliminating the need for a person to translate them to and from Morse Code.

Subsequently, this innovation served as a bridge from specialists required to send and receive telegraph messages to plain-text transmissions.

Edward Calahan saw people rushing from the floor of a stock exchange to teletypes. He realized a machine could automate the task.

Stock tickers – essentially printing telegraphs – enabled more widespread and faster investing, fueling Wall Street and financing countless innovations.

Edison subsequently created a better ticker. Heis often wrongly credited as the original innovator.

Mechanical stock tickers were manufactured until 1960 when they were overtaken by electronic versions.

Internal Combustion Engine

Few innovations throughout history are as important as the internal combustion engine.

In 1807, the Niepce brothers received a patent on an internal combustion engine but failed to commercialize it. The brothers also invented photography.

The first known working internal combustion engine (ICE) belongs to Lenoir. He converted a steam engine to burn coal gas using sparks, the modern internal combustion engine. Lenoir was well funded with two million francs.

About 1862 Lenoir introduced a car that used his engine and traveled about 3km/hr. His engine did not compress the fuel and was loud. Jules Verne predicted, in an 1863 novel, that Paris would eventually be filled with Lenoir horseless carriages. In 1860, Scientific American reported the Lenoir engine was the end of the steam age.

In 1867, German Nikolaus Otto introduced a vastly improved Lenoir engine that used a free piston.

Otto partnered with Gottlieb Daimler and released a four-stroke engine in 1876.

Karl Benz released a two-stroke engine in 1879.

Liquid fuel engines existed as far back as 1794 and the internal combustion engines all soon ran on fuel distilled form oil.

There are many people who claimed to innovate earlier ICE’s, including some that allegedly ran on oil. As with many important innovations the historic record ー due, probably, to patent disputes ー is not entirely clear.

Lenoir died in poverty in August 1900.



Nicéphore Niépce

The Niépce brothers were hell-bent on creating earth-shattering technology and they did so, twice. First, they created the internal combustion engine. Their native France was still adjusting its socioeconomic climate after the revolution so Claude went to England trying to commercialize the engine. During that time, Nicéphore invented photography.

This brings us to a definitional moment, the difference between inventing and innovating. Inventing something typically means creating something new, that might or might not have value. Innovating refers to the process of creating a new product or service that has enough value that somebody will pay.

The Niépce brothers were world-class inventors. But, due partly to circumstances partly beyond their control — their timing sucked; their native France was a basket case during this time — they failed to build their work into substantive businesses.

While Claude was trying to sell the engine, Nicéphore decided to experiment if there was some way to capture the image on the back of a camera obscura. Eventually, he focused on silver-based chemistry, inventing photography.

Photography vastly reduced the price of creating images. Before photography, creating a realistic image required sitting for days with an artist. Even then, the final image might or might not look like the actual image. Nature painting was constrained due to limitations on paint chemistry.

All the sudden humanity was able to photographically preserve images without the use of a portrait painter. This vastly reduced the cost and increased the accuracy of preserving images.

Despite that Niépce invented photography Louis Daguerre eventually stole most of the credit and money. However, historians, in time, corrected the record.

Henry Fox Talbot allegedly invented a similar type of photographic process and patented it. He claimed his experiments were performed in 1834, trying to gain a priority date to the Niépce brothers and also Daguerre. There’s a fine argument his work was little more than patent trolling though he did, later, invent a better type of photo paper.