Tom Ransom originally published the work for the needle through balloon in the New Phoenix. Not sure of the date of any other potential inventor but would love to know.
As for the poker change, I misremembered remarks of the late P. Howard Lyons that he shared with me when I experimented with the set of cards sold by Busby. Tom Ransom, it turns out, had an improvement (with no disrepect to any of the other people who have worked on this trick)on the Koch handling. Tommy altered the cut on the flap, outjogging it a hairline to the left, so that he could deal the cards from the deck pursuant to a regular round of poker and then scoop up the hand of cards, setting the gimmicks in the appropriate manner but with greater ease. This, as I just mentioned, allowed him to deal individual cards and pick up the hand rather than removing the set hand as a unit.
Tom said that he used to make these sets up in the early 70s and sell them. Most were sold at the early F.F.F.F.'s that he used to attend.
So, I stand corrected.