The telegraph. The stock ticker. The pneumatic tube. The wireless data system.
Now that the building blocks are out of the way, inventors and developers have the freedom to focus on the fun stuff -- technologies that aren't exactly revolutionizing the stock market, but are pretty nifty just the same.
From the practical to the inspired to the downright frivolous, here are a few products we've wagered will enhance the workday and lifestyle of a day trader.
Welcome to the future of hands-free day trading. Open a private portfolio simply by looking at it. Zoom in on a candlestick chart with a glance. Highlight a news feed story with a once-over. Cue the execution of a trade visually.
What is this witchery, you ask?
Nabbing three 'Best of Show' awards at this year's Consumer Electronics Conference was the eye-tracking technology and computer interface developed by Tobii Technology. Tobii Gaze may serve to send our carpal tunnel into remission by allowing us to control our cursors with our baby blues. Its sensors recognize pupils and, once calibrated, can tell the pointer where to move. Having the ability to quickly sweep through data across multiple screens, could also save traders precious time in an industry when every millisecond counts.
[More from Minyanville: Gilead Sciences Reports Strong Cure Rate for Hepatitis C Drug]
While stand-alone eye-trackers have been in use for years, developers have yet to embed the technology into laptops -- especially affordably -- for consumers on the mass market. That's where the Tobii Gaze and Microsoft (MSFT) come in. Designed to work with the Windows 8 Metro interface, the system is slated to become available as soon as 2013.
Just don't hold your breath for a blink-once-to-buy, blink-twice-to-sell function quite yet.
Kanz Field Power Desk
If you thought you'd found sanctuary working from home, imagine what a workplace in the woods would do for your peace of mind. Building a park office -- among the pines and babbling brooks with the forest floor under your feet -- is now a reality thanks to the Northridge, California, electronics wilderness outfit Kanz Outdoors.
[More from Minyanville: How to Trade Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Ahead of Earnings]
Traders don't have to fight traffic back to the city at the end of a weekend camping trip. As long as you brought along your handy Field Power Desk, you'll be all set to speculate away in the great outdoors. This mobile, compact, and freestanding workstation is outfitted with GoalZero Sherpa power packs that can be recharged with the desk's integrated solar panels. An internal charging strip means your smartphone, tablet, and even Shiatsu neck massager will also stay juiced. A desktop light keeps everything illuminated.
But all this power doesn't come without a price. The 120-watt model runs $2,000 while the 240-watt configuration will set you back an extra $500.
After the market's closing bell and Killarney Rose's last call, traders can keep talking shop in the 24-7 community that is StockTwits. The definitive social network of the stock market is a community where amateur and professional investors as well brokerage firms and financial media outlets are free to share advice, analysis, charts, and real-time news.
Using Twitter as a platform, the service pulls and organizes public company-specific tweets with a $ tag (i.e. $APPL) and then boils the relevant information down to 140 characters. The app is free and has a version for both iOS (AAPL) and Android (GOOG) devices. Those interested can sign up using their existing Twitter, Facebook (FB), or LinkedIn (LNKD) accounts.
Verizon Data Plans
A trader is only as fast as his or her data connection. Obviously, if you're part of a firm, the decision of provider has been made for you. But for traders working on their own, the most dependable connection in the US arguably comes from Verizon (VZ). At home that means FiOS Internet -- which tops off at 300Mbps -- while traders on the go will need to sign up for the company's 4G network.
There are certainly drawbacks to going with the nation's largest wireless carrier. Verizon subscribers pay a premium for that speedier service and new contracts (as of last year) limit the amount of data customers can download in a given month. Under the most recent cellular plan, 2GB of data commands a hefty $100 per month while your wallet will take a monthly whopping of $205 for 300Mbps of FiOS' Quantum tier service.
Our pseudoscience senses are tingling, sure. Still, we couldn't pass up an acknowledgement of this gizmo, if only for its mesmerizing blinking lights. It may amount to little more than a glorified mood ring, but the Rationalizer is Philips Electronics (PHG) and Dutch Bank ABN AMRO's answer to keeping traders' temperaments in check so that you'll be able to make more rational investment decisions.
Picking up galvanic skin biofeedback, an "EmoBracelet" communicates with a glowing "EmoBowl" which, in turn, alerts the trader about his or her arousal levels. Yellow lights mean you're mellow, orange lights throw up the caution flag, and when the deep red lights start dancing furiously, it's time to take a trading time-out. The product works off the theory that greed makes investors buy unwisely high while fear drives hasty selling when share prices drop. A glowing bowl is just the thing to save you from making those impetuous and regrettable transactions.
Since the technology is still in development, for now you'll just have to settle on taking your pulse.
[More from Minyanville: Damned Lies and Statistics: How Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Got Punk'd]