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.

Transatlantic Cables

Transatlantic cables shrunk the world, vastly increasing the speed and lowering the cost of intercontinental communications.

The first cable functioned only a few weeks. Transmissions, in Morse Code, were especially slow.

Field, as a young businessman, joined a paper company that failed six months later. Despite his status as a young employee, with no responsibility for the failure or debt, he negotiated with creditors. Eventually, he took over the company and, despite no obligation, paid off the debts of his prior employer.

Correspondingly, this earned him an enormous amount of respect which led to ever more business until he exited the paper business, a wealthy and well-respected entrepreneur.

Eventually, Field turned his attention to the emerging field of telegraphy, investing and organizing companies laying long-distance cables. Among these, the most aspirational is the first trans-Atlantic cable. He recruited English physician Dr. Widlman Whitehouse to run the English side. Both Whitehouse’s inexperience and arrogance — he insisted on using his own equipment at a high voltage — destroyed the cable.

Today, information equivalent to every printed book in 1858 flies over transatlantic cables in well under a second, every second, of every day.

Facsimile (FAX) Machine

Alexander Bain created a telegraph that transmitted light and dark dots that were reproduced on the other side, the fax machine, long before the telephone.

Early faxes were popular with newspapers due to their ability to quickly transmit crude images. Countless modifications and improvements followed over the years.

Despite the obvious differences in the innovation, Morse shut Bain down as a patent infringer.

Note that it’s difficult to believe the FAX machine is this old but the historical record is clear. For whatever reason, it took well over 100 years to create FAX machines for use outside newspapers and other specialized uses of photo transmission.

In 1964, Xerox invented and patented the modern FAX machine; after some early adjustments, the standard remained unchanged until today. However, inexpensive scanners, digital file scans (ex: PDF), and internet transmission disrupted the FAX machine.