1. K-State home
  2. »Physics
  3. »Alumni and Friends
  4. »Ernest Fox Nichols Lecture Series
  5. »2002

Department of Physics

2002 Ernest Fox Nichols Distinguished Lecture

Bill PorterApplying Physics for the Betterment of Humankind

William Porter

M.S. in Physics (1952) from Kansas State University
Founder of E*Trade and ISE

Bill Porter was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado. He didn't like high school very much so he joined the Navy at the age of 16. After a stint in the service, he decided to follow his father's advice and go to school.

Mr. Porter graduated from Adams State College in Colorado. He then came to Manhattan where he earned a master's in physics here at Kansas State University. His master's thesis, "Infrared spectroscopy applied to the study of the autoxidation of di-iso-butyl ketone" was published in 1952. In 1967, after working at the National Bureau of Standards, General Electric, and Textron Corporation, he went to school at MIT.

Mr. Porter has been the creative genius behind more than 20 products and services, which include many electronic devices and products, and he holds 14 patents. One of his patents is for the first shoulder-mounted backpack broadcast color TV camera; others include the first electronic diesel-electric locomotive checkout system; the first infrared horizon sensor for satellite stabilization and several other breakthroughs that are still used today.

In 1982, he founded an electronic brokerage service for stockbrokers where the world's first online trading took place. Ten years later he realized he could compete with major brokerage houses and launched a subsidiary of Trade Plus now known as E*Trade – the leader in online investing. He most recently launched the International Securities Exchange (ISE) — the United States' first entirely electronic options market.

Mr.Porter is very modest about all of his achievements. He says, "I figured if I could live to be 150, maybe I'll know how to do it right," regarding the complex game of entrepreneurship. "There's always plenty more to learn."

He will present his lecture on September 20, 2002, in the Little Theater of the K-State Union.