A Brief History of Derivatives:
"To start we need to go back to the Bible. In Genesis Chapter 29, believed to be about the year 1700 B.C., Jacob purchased an option costing him seven years of labor that granted him the right to marry Laban's daughter Rachel. His prospective father-in-law, however, reneged, perhaps making this not only the first derivative but the first default on a derivative. Laban required Jacob to marry his older daughter Leah. Jacob married Leah, but because he preferred Rachel, he purchased another option, requiring seven more years of labor, and finally married Rachel, bigamy being allowed in those days. Jacob ended up with two wives, twelve sons, who became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel, and a lot of domestic friction, which is not surprising. Some argue that Jacob really had forward contracts, which obligated him to the marriages but that does not matter. Jacob did derivatives, one way or the other."