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I assume he is unprepared for such an event and therefore does not have specific detailed knowlede of the stockmarket, ground prices or similar assets. Also without initial capital buying some waterfront property that would only 50 years later become very valuable is not a possibility.

How could he use his knowledge of modern times, e.g. the way industry, trade, society and so forth work nowerdays use to become fairly wealthy within reasonable time.

In addition, he is not a trained economist or historian who possesses detailed knowledge beyond any high school graduate of the respective country or region. The goal is for him to become fairly wealthy within a maximum timespan of 10 years!

How could somebody aquire reasonable wealth quickly, when he (or she) unexpectedly falls in a time hole and finds himself 100 years in the past?

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  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to worldbuilding. Please read through or Code of Conduct and familiarize yourself with how to post questions with reasonable background and detail. I edited your question to become more specific, but you should probably add some details of your own which I could not predict in order not to be flagged as too broad! $\endgroup$ – Alex2006 Aug 14 '19 at 11:12
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    $\begingroup$ This depends enormously on the specific country and the specific knowledge and skills of the time travellers. As asked -- "any high school graduate" -- the person in question has very little useful skills and knowledge; why would such a person be able to become rich? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 14 '19 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex2006 you bloated the text but the question was clear before. $\endgroup$ – Walter Aug 14 '19 at 12:13
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    $\begingroup$ The question is not clear. 100 years ago in Cupertino is not the same as 100 years ago in the steppe somewhere in the North. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 14 '19 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Arrives just after the first world war (1919) and is going to try and become well off by 1929 (just in time for the global economic collapse). $\endgroup$ – StephenG Aug 14 '19 at 14:27
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100 years ago the knowledge a standard high school student brings isn't that much. They're probably well educated, but will not have deep knowledge of valuable things yet to be invented. They can't attempt to patent a steam engine or corner the market with internal combustion or with electricity - these things are already there.

They are not well educated enough to attempt to invent any truly new technology. Transistors and semiconductors are complicated. They also require 40 odd years of improvements to chemical engineering and materials science to even get to the point of making them. A high school student won't know how to reproduce the big advancements in aeronautics, in mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering.

The best bet in my opinion is to try and use the fact they are reasonably well educated to get employment in one of the victors of WWI (100 years ago would put you after the end of that of course), and take part in any post war booms they can. If we ignore your 10 year deadline, a reasonably well educated person should be able to get their money into semi safe areas. Assuming you arrive in 1919;

  • Don't invest in Germany until the hyper-inflation is over, if at all
  • The Great Depression will kick off in 1929. Don't be in debt, pull money out of risky things in advance, possibly attempt to bet against the market.
  • Invest in telecoms if you can, especially in America.
  • Try and get involved in American defense contracting.

Those are just my initial ideas, but none of them will see big pay offs until well after your 10 year deadline.

A specific person with personal knowledge might do better. If you know how to make really good washing machines from not much you could probably corner that side of light industry, or similar. But again, this is down to the person at least in my opinion.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd just invest in Apple, Google, MS, eBay, and other big companies when they were starting. You could become a millionaire easily. $\endgroup$ – user39548 Aug 14 '19 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @23fc9a62-56de-47fb-97b4-737890 none of those companies existed 100 years ago. Do you know without research which companies existing then don't go bankrupt, don't collapse in value and get bought out by a competitor? The question states the time traveler is neither a historian or an economist. $\endgroup$ – TheBarrometer Aug 14 '19 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm neither a historian or an economist. But a reasonably-well educated highschool student nowadays should at least know about the dot-com bust. But I did miss the requirement to be rich in 10 years--I thought the goal was to be rich when they got back in the future. $\endgroup$ – user39548 Aug 14 '19 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ @23fc9a62-56de-47fb-97b4-737890 well, assuming somebody is only dumped 100 years in the past and not given extended lifespan of any sort, then they'd need to wait for quite a while to see any profits from those companies. Even a relatively young person would be quite aged and possibly dead by the time MS or Google open up. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 14 '19 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ Investing in energy companies, primarily oil, would be a sure fire win, but the biggest payoffs would happen until mid-century. Even with a high school degree you'll know the big technologies, and have enough sense to invest the money in companies you know will be winners. $\endgroup$ – Greg Burghardt Aug 14 '19 at 14:14
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Betting on well-known historic events. For instance, 100 years ago places us before the very infamous 1919 World Series, so just bet the White Sox will lose. Also in a few years this team called the Yankees will pick up this kid George Herman 'Babe' Ruth, so make a few long term bets on him, like the fact that he'll hit more homeruns than entire teams.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm sure there are plenty of people here with more tech knowledge than sports trivia knowledge, and most of us in Europe probably have only a vague idea of what a World Series might be. Betting on significant election results would be another possibility if you happened to go back to just the right time. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Aug 14 '19 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ Changed the answer to make it more general. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Aug 14 '19 at 14:16
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In 1919 there was one extremly profitable thing, which is totally immoral and forbidden today - opioid narcotics (heroin, morphium etc.) and cocaine. They were not so stricly controlled as today, but were just as addictive. Highschool students should know a lot about it and modern shemas of destribution. So he would have a better chances than 192x era people.

It is not a 100% option and is hard and dangerous (there were mafia organisations after all), but this is one of the most profitable option he has (had? - oh those English tenses and time machines!)for making quick money.

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  • $\begingroup$ that remind me of coca cola $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Aug 14 '19 at 13:51
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Invent the hook-and-loop fastener.

This would have been invented in 1941 by George de Mestral. He named both the material, and the company he founded, Velcro. As a concept, it is very easy to remember, and equally simple to demonstrate the benefit of.

Unfortunately, you might have to wait until about 1939 for both Nylon and Polyester to be available before you can do this. Unless, of course, you can remember how to make both of those, or devise suitable replacement materials.

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As long as you can remember everything in school, just write them out and pretend you are the smartest person in the world. It may not make you really rich, but you already have enough fame and you can just go around being invited to talks and parties. Extra points if you can jury rig some modern tech and make it as your invention, e.g. a steam turbine or a flashlight.

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    $\begingroup$ Ugh, they actually had steam turbines and electric light one hundred years ago. And they actually had engineers who knew vastly more about steam turbines and electric generators and batteries and lightbulbs than a garden variety middle of the pack high school graduate of 2019. Remember that one hundred years ago is 1919; it's not the dark ages. They had aircraft and automobiles and cinema and a chemical industry and telephones and radio... A very very good high school graduate has knowledge equivalent to about 1700 (in mathematics) to 1900 (in chemistry), depending on the specific field $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 14 '19 at 11:57
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    $\begingroup$ People used flashlights for a lot longer than 100 years. There were electric lights back in the 19th century and batteries of various kinds for at least 18th centuries. Aside from flame based hand held variants, there are also cold lights that were used in WW1. That war ended 101 years ago. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 14 '19 at 12:26

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