This week in history – Firsts

Sometimes it’s inspirational to take a few minutes and think about notable things that have happened in history.  When something broke through and become a ‘first’.

In June this past summer, the US Patent and Trademark office issued their 10 millionth utility patent.  In 2017 alone there were almost 350,000 patents granted.    The entrepreneurial spirit that drives most of these ‘firsts’ has been a constant throughout history.    Identifying needs and filling those needs with solutions very often go on to completely changes the landscape of the world.


“Find a need and fill that need with a product built to last.”   

Gary Vermeer founder of Vermeer Corp (holds over 100 US patents)


Not all “Firsts” are patent-able or even a tangible item.   When Roger Bannister first broke the 4 minute mile barrier in 1954, it opened the door for another 1,400 runners to follow in his footsteps.  And from a business perspective, it certainly fueled the growth of running as a sport; setting the stage for expansive growth in the business of running shoes and all the gear associated with running.


This week, in the spirit of celebrating business related firsts, we’re sharing a snap shot of some notable (and not so notable) events that are forever tied to this 4th week of October.   Some of these firsts evolved into entire industries and completely changed the way we do business.  Other firsts may have seemed somewhat irrelevant at the time, but later would prove to be so significant the person’s name is literally known around the world.

The celebrity birthday list was left off, so if it’s your birthday this week feel free to add it.   However, a little color commentary was added for each to better capture the significance of “the first”.


The Firsts….

October 22nd:

1861 – 1st telegraph line linking West & East coasts completed

Today the US has over 113,000 mile of Long Haul Fiber Optic cable.  That doesn’t include any copper wire, local fiber, or wireless networks.


1897 –  World’s first car dealer opens in London.

NADA recently estimated there were 16,700 new car dealers and 20,000 used car dealers in the US alone


1936 –  1st commercial flight from mainland to Hawaii

In the first quarter of 2018, Visitors to Hawaii spent $4.82 Billion – aloha…!


October 23rd:

1814 – 1st Plastic Surgery was performed (England)

ASPS revealed that $16 Billion was spent on Plastic Surgery in 2016 – lookin’ good!


1956 –  First video recording on magnetic tape televised coast-to-coast

Today anyone with a smart phone can record and send HD Video and send it around the world in seconds.  Check out these cat videos…!


2001 – Apple releases the 1st iPod

The retail price was $399.  A share of Apple Stock (AAPL) was worth $1.30.  So that same $399 would have bought 306.92 shares of Apple.   Check out today’s value of one share x 306.92 = _________  (Hint – investing early pays…).


October 24th:

1924 – Nobel prize for physiology or medicine awarded to Dutchman Willem Einthoven “for his discovery of the mechanism of the electrocardiogram”

Today EKG machines are found in nearly every hospital in the country and are still considered one of the best tools to detect heart problem and monitor the hearts status.


1931 – George Washington Bridge linking New York City and New Jersey dedicated

Today this bridge carries well over 100 Million vehicles a year, making it the world’s busiest bridge.


1940 – US Fair Labor Standards of 1938 comes into effect

This set in motion the right to minimum wage, Overtime @ 1.5X, and 40 hr. work week.


October 25th:

1906 – US inventor Lee de Forest patents “Audion”, a 3-diode amplification valve which proved a pioneering development in radio & broadcasting

De Forest and everybody else at the time greatly underestimated the potential of his original device, imagining it to be limited to mostly military applications.


1978 – “Halloween” directed by John Carpenter with Jamie Lee Curtis making her film debut.

In 2017 scary movies had $733 Million in ticket sales.   And, just in time for this Halloween guess who’s back!  Halloween


2001 – Windows XP first becomes available

Microsoft will sometimes admit they are even surprised by the acceptance of XP.   Even though, MS stopped supporting XP 2014, it is still the 3rd most popular OS in the world!   Do you know any holdouts still running on XP?


October 26th:

1825 – Erie Canal between Hudson River & Lake Erie opens

The system has been modernized over the centuries, but today it has an estimated total economic impact of $6.2 billion annually.


1950 – Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India

She served the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, Mother Teresa represents the best of humanity.  She brought attention to the plight of those all over the world who live in poverty and today Saint Teresa of Calcutta is one of the most recognized individuals in modern history.


1985 – On a poor call in 6th game, umpire Don Deckinger starts a string of events costing Cardinals the World Series

The rest of this story is history if you’re a Royals fan.  After years of exhaustive research we have yet to find a Royals fan who thinks Deckinger’s call was a poor call.   Kansas City wins!


So what do you think of these firsts?   Did you learn anything?  How have they impacted your business?  Your life?  How many of them do you take for granted?     As always we value any comments in the space below.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach