Skip links

Dallas, Texas: A Spotlight On Innovation

What is it about Dallas, Texas that has resulted in so many things we take for granted as we go about our lives today? Inventions like the frozen margarita machine and stadium nachos and corny dogs make our enjoyment of delicious snacks possible at sporting events and fairs. Other inventions have literally changed our futures – like the microchip and voicemail and even Ultravision’s groundbreaking outdoor LED lighting and LED Displays. The list goes on and on but let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights. 

Dallas Innovations: Food

Some of the top gastronomic inventions have sprung from the creativity of Dallas, Texas minds. 

  • German’s Chocolate Cake – It was not invented in Germany, but by Dallas homemaker Mrs. George Clay. It won Recipe of the Day by the Dallas Morning News in 1957.
  • Margaritas – Invented by Dallas socialite Margaret “Margarita” Sames in 1948, as the story goes, to serve at a party. Incidentally, the world’s first frozen margarita machine was also invented in Dallas, in 1971. While we’re here, the Snow Cone was invented by Samuel Bert in Dallas in 1919. 
  • Drive-In Restaurants – In 1921 Jessie G. Kirby & Reuben Jackson opened Kirby’s Pig Stand. In 1931, the Pig Stand also became the first fast food restaurant to use a drive-thru window. 
  • Corny Dogs – In 1942, Neil and Carl Fletcher opened the first corny dog stand at the Texas State Fair, selling them for 15 cents. The Texas State Fair is the birthplace of many other culinary achievements, including deep fried treats. 
  • Doritos – In 1966, Arch West, a Frito-Lay marketing executive, brought fried tortilla snacks back from a trip to San Diego and developed Doritos.
  • Stadium Nachos – These were invented by Frank Liberto in 1976 and were sold during Texas Rangers games at Arlington Stadium.

Dallas Technology Firsts

There have been many amazing technological advances that come from Dallas, including the automatic control of traffic lights in 1923 or ATM machines and drive up windows at banks. Even Liquid Paper was invented in Dallas. Here are some of the top technologies invented in Dallas, Texas:

Original hybrid integrated circuit – 1958 By Source, Fair use
  • Silicon Transistors – Invented by Gordon Teal in 1954, silicon transistors conduct more energy while withstanding more heat than other transistors. 
  • Integrated Circuits – Microchips were invented in Dallas by Jack Kilby in 1958, making the home computers and cell phones we use today possible. Kilby won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics. He worked at Texas Instruments, where he also developed the first handheld calculator in 1967. 
  • Voice Mail – Gordon Mathews invented this technology in 1979. He also had 35 separate patents for his inventions but this was his most well known. 

Ultravision: A Proud Dallas, Texas Innovator

Like the other inventors mentioned, Ultravision founder and CEO William Hall had an idea and overcame the challenges to make that idea a reality. Hall and his colleagues were simultaneously working on solving outdoor lighting problems and looking for better ways to use LED displays.

Outdoor LED Lighting

LED lighting started to become popular for commercial use in offices, schools and hospitals around 2008, eventually replacing halogen and fluorescent bulbs to become the main source of lighting all over the world. They lasted ten years or more and lowered electricity costs significantly because they required less electricity to produce superior lighting. But outdoor LED lighting at the time was impossible because they could not be protected from the elements by sealing them without burning up the LED. 

Hall and his team, through trial and error, faced several obstacles in designing an LED light that could work outdoors in all types of weather conditions without burning up. By installing an LED light strip directly onto the aluminum housing and adding fins to dissipate the heat they solved the problem with heat transfer and introduced outdoor LED lighting that could be used in all weather conditions. The team also developed new ways of controlling the light to make it even on a flat surface. Ultravision went on to develop 28 patents in LED lighting technology, and although these design innovations are standard now, Ultravision led the way and continues to stay on top of LED lighting technology.

Modular LED Displays

While Ultravision was working on making outdoor LED lighting a possibility, the team was also focused on improving LED displays that would fundamentally change displays as we know them today. In the past LED displays required a heavy, bulky IT cabinet behind each one to contain the display power supply, processors and computing equipment. The cabinet would heat up inside, causing everything to shut down if it got too hot. Also, for large displays, a system of catwalks would need to be set up to hold all of the equipment and cabinets, making this a large, expensive and unwieldy system to work with. 

The team designed thin LED panels that could be stacked anywhere, to create any size display, that could be placed against a wall without the need for large cabinets and structure to support them. Ultravision led the way with this technology, obtaining 32 patents for modular LED display panels and changing the industry forever. 

Ultravision: A Proud Dallas Innovator

Ultravision continues to stay abreast of trends and technology when it comes to LED lighting and LED displays. With our high quality lighting and our renowned modular LED displays and LED display rentals, you can’t go wrong with choosing Ultravision. Contact us today. We are proud to be part of the legacy of Dallas innovation.