Invention: A Look Back at Historic Firsts With North Texas Ties

From liquid paper to the frozen margarita machine, delve into a list of inventors and inventions that have North Texas origins.

Jack Kilby TI

Integrated Circuit
In 1958, Jack Kilby, an engineer for Texas Instruments Inc. in Dallas, built the world’s first integrated circuit, which is in all consumer electronics today. Kilby and other engineers also invented the first handheld, digital calculator in 1967.

H. Ross Perot in the 1960s [Photo: Hillwood]

H. Ross Perot in the 1960s [Photo: Hillwood]

EDS (Electronic Data Services]
H. Ross Perot founded Electronic Data Services in 1962, creating the first company in the world to perform outsourced information technology services. He financed the startup via a $1,000 loan from his wife, Margot.

Frozen Margarita Machine
In 1971, Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez retrofitted a soft-serve ice cream machine to serve margarita slush at his Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine. The first machine is at the Smithsonian.

Voice Mail
In 1979, Gordon Matthews’ VMX company developed technology that let workers record, send, store, and forward voice messages from any phone in an office.

Concert Light Shows
Dallas-based Vari-Lite Inc. invented the first automated color stage lighting system used by nearly every band since it debuted in 1981. Genesis was the first customer.

Drive-up Technologies
Kirby’s Pig Stand in Dallas was the first drive-in restaurant in 1921. Hillcrest State Bank in University Park opened in 1938 with the first drive-up window. Docutel in Dallas invented a machine that dispensed cash in 1968.

3D Laser
A Honeywell group in Richardson developed the first commercial vertical cavity laser in 1996. It drives the face recognition technology in the iPhone 8 and X.

Laser Tag
Inspired by Star Wars, George Carter opened the first commercialized version of laser tag called Photon in Dallas in 1984.

Liquid Paper
In the early 1950s, Dallas secretary Bette Nesmith Graham created a water-based correction fluid called Mistake Out to fix her typing mistakes. She later changed the name to Liquid Paper and sold the company to Gillette Co.

Commercialized Nanotechnology
Zyvex Corp. in Richardson became the world’s first commercial molecular nanotechnology manufacturer in 1997, which led to using enhanced polymer materials in sporting goods, automotive, and other products.

Convenience Store
In 1927, Southland Ice Co. in Dallas began selling milk, bread, and eggs, the precursor to 7-Eleven and the 24/7 convenience store.


Smarter, Stronger, Savvier: 5 Companies Pushing Innovation Boundaries

From Dallas to Plano, large corporations are using technology to change how they serve customers and outplay competition.

Breaking the Mold: North Texas Companies to Keep On Your Innovation Radar 

More than a dozen companies operate innovation labs, test centers, or teams in North Texas — add these to your watch list.

Get on the list.

Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.

One quick signup, and you’re done.   
View previous emails.

R E A D   N E X T

  • The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which passed in May, has the power to develop 20 tech hubs throughout the United States. According to Tech Titans' CEO Bill Sproull, Dallas-Fort Worth could be a strong contender for one of those spots.

  • The NTXIA is a founding member of the new National Smart Coalitions Partnership, now one of the largest smart cities networks in the country. The organization unites more than 100 governments across seven regional smart cities consortiums. The goal? To accelerate sustainability and resilience in communities.

  • BUiLT, nonprofit, Texas, North Texas, Dallas, Dallas-Fort Worth, DFW, Black talent, Black tech talent, Texas talent, North Texas talent, Dallas talent, Dallas-Fort Worth talent, DFW talent, talent attraction, Texas tech talent, North Texas tech talent, Dallas tech talent, Dallas-Fort Worth tech talent, DFW tech talent, Texas business, North Texas business, Dallas business, Dallas-Fort Worth business, DFW business, Texas nonprofit, North Texas nonprofit, Dallas nonprofit, Dallas-Fort Worth nonprofit, DFW nonprofit, symposium, symposia, non-profit, nonprofit, nonprofits, non-profits, cybersecurity, cyber security, north-texas, expo, vice president, Texas symposium, North Texas symposium, Dallas symposium, Dallas-Fort Worth symposium, DFW symposium,

    Nonprofit BUiLT is hosting the event to highlight the success and possibilities of Black tech talent in the region. “There is no talent pipeline problem,” says Peter Beasley, co-founder of the Blacks United in Leading Technology International. “Black tech talent is widely available, especially in North Texas.”

  • Dr. Justin Lonon, vice chancellor of Dallas College, addresses the crowd at the recent Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Dallas Graduation. [Photo: 10KSB]

    “There’s no one tougher and stronger than DFW small business owners," U.S. Representative Marc Veasey said at the event honoring the North Texas graduates. Here's the list of the 105 graduates and a rundown of the event. 10,000 Small Businesses also released insights from a recent research report. The survey says, among other findings, adaptation will be key to survival.

  • Lee Bratcher Texas Blockchain

    The inaugural October 8th Texas Blockchain Summit could be a watershed event for making Texas "the jurisdiction of choice" for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Lee Bratcher, president of the Texas Blockchain Council, will host a wide array of speakers including Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis.