Striking It Rich With Rich Data

In 1859, in sleepy farm country near Titusville, Pa., a group of New York investors dug the world’s first oil well. Locals had known about the sticky black stuff for hundreds of years, occasionally using it to patch leaks or lubricate farm machinery, but mostly considering it a nuisance. Sometimes, when digging for water, they would strike oil instead—and promptly abandon the site.

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