Commercial sense of "an investing of money or capital" is from 1610s, originally in reference to the East India Company; general use is from 1740 in the sense of "conversion of money to property in hopes of profit," and by 1837 in the sense "amount of money invested." For evolution of the commercial senses, see invest.
investment scam by which early investors are paid off from the contributions of later ones, 1957, in reference to Charles Ponzi (1882-1949), who perpetrated such a scheme in the U.S. 1919-20.
"one who has a fixed income from investment" (in land, stocks, etc.), 1847, from French rentier, "holder of rental properties or investments that pay income," from rente "profit, income" (see rent (n.1), the old, broader sense of which survives in this).