Offbeat

7 Fields of Startups and Their Pioneers

by . August 11th, 2014

A lot of entrepreneurs relate startups to inventions. It’s no surprise really because the type of entrepreneurship we see day-to-day and up our faces are apps that do certain things we believe we haven’t seen before. But the truth is that we don’t actually see something new. We just see something old done in a new way. An improved way.

Trying to come up with something new with no background available is almost a death sentence to your project. Take a successful business today and do some research. Was it the first at what it did? Or rather, was it an evolutionary step to improve or restructure the service that it provides?

Here are a few well-known markets and their pioneers. See if you’ve ever heard of them.

1. Social Networking

Ward_Christensen_and_the_First_BBS
Wikimedia Commons

When you think of the history of online social networking you think of things like MySpace and Friendster. However, way back in 1978, Ward Christensen invented the Computerised Bulletin Board System to contact friends and find out what they were doing during the blizzard that hit Chicago that year. Although it being online is questionable as it was through a modem, but not the internet, this is definitely a start of the medium.

2. Fast Food

Pompeii_-_Osteria_della_Via_di_Mercurio_-_Dice_Players
Wikimedia Commons

There is a chance that you know about American fast food history with White Castle and Arby’s being pioneers. Did you know though that there has been fast food in Ancient Rome and Han Dynasty China? That’s right. Ancient Roman popinae were the mix of McDonald’s, whore houses, and underground gambling rings. Whereas China had noodle stalls which pretty much resemble what they are today.

3. Smartphones

IBM_Simon_Personal_Communicator
Wikimedia Commons

Although conceptualised in 1973, the first official smartphone (even before the term “smartphone” was invented) was the 1993 IBM Simon. Other than accepting and making calls, the Simon could receive faxes, emails, and cellular messages. It also had an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, electronic note pad, and handwritten annotations.

4. Videogames

Cathode_ray_tube_amusement_device_-_schematic
Wikimedia Commons

You’re probably thinking of Pong right now, but the first video game was created in 1947. The cathode ray tube amusement device was purely electromechanical and did not use any memory device, computer, or programming. However, if that escapes your own personal description of what a video game is, then Alan Turing’s chess program was invented not too long after the amusement device.

5. Flight

Fier_Drake_(1634_kite_woodcut)
Wikimedia Commons

We all know the story of the Wright brothers or at least believe we know due to a comical cartoon based on them. But Ancient China takes this prize again as the first ever recorded successful human flight was that of Yuan Huangtou, who in 599 AD was attached to a kite and launched as his punishment as a war prisoner. He survived but was later executed.

Ok. Perhaps flight isn’t a popular startup theme, but I found this story really cool.

6. Digital Cameras

Steve_sasson
Wikimedia Commons

If you need to thank someone for that selfie you took on the way to the office or that photo of your expensive dinner, thank Steven Sasson. He’s still alive! In 1975, he created the first ever digital camera that weighed a whopping 8 pounds and had only 0.01 megapixels. It was black and white and took 23 seconds to process an image.

7. Beer

Alulu_Beer_Receipt
Wikimedia Commons

For quite some time now, microbreweries have become quite the trend. A lot of people go the distance to find that amazing beer that their friends probably haven’t. But as you take down your maple bacon beer, give cheers to Iran, or at least ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest evidence of beer was found in jars that date 7,000 years old. Take that, Portland!

If you’ve got some cool entrepreneurial history facts, please let us know in the comments section below. If you want to know more about startups, follow out Facebook and Twitter.

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