business

#business

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Deutsch: Bill Gates während der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz 2017. Credit: Kuhlmann /MSC (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0">CC BY 3.0</a>)
Deutsch: Bill Gates während der Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz 2017. Credit: Kuhlmann /MSC (CC BY 3.0)
William H. Gates III had business on his mind from the very beginning. One day when he was ten years old, Gates drew up a contract—giving him unlimited access to his older sister's baseball mitt.
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Telemarketing. Wikipedia photo from Bob Wood (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/>CC0</a>)
Telemarketing. Wikipedia photo from Bob Wood (CC0)
In the wee hours of a certain morning in the year 2000, some 3,000 Arizona residents received automated telephone calls promoting the campaign of Republican State Senator John Huppenthal. Huppenthal's previous claim to fame? He had assumed a key role in the passage of a law banning automated telemarketing calls. [The calls were later said to have been placed "by accident."]
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Denton, Texas
Michael Dell, founder & CEO, Dell Inc. Credit: mikeandryan (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0">CC BY 2.0</a>)
Michael Dell, founder & CEO, Dell Inc. Credit: mikeandryan (CC BY 2.0)
Like many wily businessmen, Michael Dell was adept at oiling the political machine, as the following statistics illustrate: Total voting population of a Denton, Texas, tax district when a development plan favoring Dell Computer was approved there in 1996? One. Weeks before the vote that the sole resident was moved there by Dell so that he could approve the plan? Five.
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An 1897 illustration showing a range of European dog breeds (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/>CC0</a>)
An 1897 illustration showing a range of European dog breeds (CC0)
In March 2003, German artist Karl-Friedrich Lentze applied for permission from Berlin's business authority to open the world's first canine nightclub and £20 brothel for dogs. Lentze had already hired one empolyee—his own Jack Russell mix, Karlchen—to work as a "door-dog" to enforce the rules and ward off unwanted guests.  "It's a form of satire that criticises society," he said. "I used to paint and create sculptures, this is just the next step... Of course, we’ll be happy to receive female and gay dogs, too, it’s a democratic thing,”
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An Oster DiamondForce waffle iron
An Oster DiamondForce waffle iron
While operating a waffle iron in his kitchen one morning in 1962, Bill Bowerman was inspired to experiment with rubber. Stuffing a slice of it into the iron, Bowerman found, produced a deeply waffled pattern perfect for use in the production of shoes.  With Philip Knight, Bowerman (Knight's coach) went on to found Nike and revolutionize the industry.
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A Telia Finland store in Tikkurila, Vantaa. Wikipedia photo: Arkke (CC BY-SA 4.0)
A Telia Finland store in Tikkurila, Vantaa. Wikipedia photo: Arkke (CC BY-SA 4.0)
In April 2001, Telia (a Swedish Telecoms company) cut off Anders Igel's cell phone service because he had failed to pay his $180 bill on time. Who was Anders Igel? To many he was best known as Telia's new CEO. [An embarrassed Igel claimed to have paid four days before the payment was due. Telia's Customer Relations Office told a rather different story: "Mr Igel's phone has been cut," they declared. "It doesn't matter who you are, if you don't pay your bill on time, your phone is cut off."]
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A classic smiley face. Credit: Wikipedia user Mystìc (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
A classic smiley face. Credit: Wikipedia user Mystìc (CC BY-SA 2.0)
In 1963,  an insurance firm hired graphic artist Harvey Ball to develop an image that would help to improve morale. In about ten minutes, he came up with a yellow circle with dots for eyes and a big curvy grin. By the early 70’s the "smiley face" was everywhere - on bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and boxer shorts. It became a symbol of the "Me Decade," even appearing on a postage stamp.  Amazingly, Ball sold the image for $45 and never tried to copyright it, foregoing millions in potential royalties. More amazing still, that never seemed to bother him. "Hey," he said on one occasion, "I can only eat one steak at a time."  * Contrary to popular belief, Ball did not invent ...
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A 1931 Ericsson rotary dial telephone. Photo from Wikipedia user Holger.Ellgaard 08 (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)
A 1931 Ericsson rotary dial telephone. Photo from Wikipedia user Holger.Ellgaard 08 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Rotary dials were patented in 1891 by Almon B. Strowger, an undertaker in the U.S. Midwest. The story goes that he noticed his funeral-home business was falling off and suddenly realized that the local telephone switchboard operator was the wife of his competitor. He invented the rotary dial so people could make their own connections.
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Carl Sagan, from image of the Planetary Society (<a href=https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/>CC0</a>)
Carl Sagan, from image of the Planetary Society (CC0)
Software designers often bestow pet names upon their projects. When Apple programmers named a beta (test) version of a novel software application "Sagan" in honor of the renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, the latter—incredibly—threatened to sue. Naturally, Apple backed down, renaming the application "BHA". Only later did Sagan discover that the new name was in fact an acronym—for "Butt-Head Astronomer"!
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One day in 1856, 18-year-old English schoolboy William Henry Perkin, inspired by a teacher's comment regarding the potential value of synthetic quinine, began to experiment with the substance in his home laboratory. Though he failed to produce synthetic quinine as he had hoped, Perkin noticed an odd purple tint in the mess he had produced. He promptly left school, opened a factory, and became a millionaire producing "mauveine," the world's first synthetic dye. * As Wikipedia explains: In 1856, William Henry Perkin, then age 18, was given a challenge by his professor, August Wilhelm von Hofmann, to synthesize quinine. In one attempt, Perkin oxidized aniline using potassium dichromate, whose toluidine impurities reacted with the aniline and yielded a black ...