50 Funny, Inspiring, and Just Plain Bizarre Historic Firsts
Do you know what the first food ever microwaved was? Or who the first person to win two Nobel prizes was? Read on for the answers to these and 48 other amazing firsts.
First woman to fly solo over the Atlantic
You probably slept through your last flight over the Atlantic ocean. (Unless you’re a pilot and then we sincerely hope you didn’t.) But less than a century ago, flying was a dangerous, risky sport. And on May 21, 1932, Amelia Earhart earned her place on the list of high-flying adrenaline junkies when she became the first woman aviator to pilot a solo transatlantic flight. She was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross by the U.S. Congress. History buffs, do you know the true facts behind these 18 history lessons your teacher lied to you about?
First telephone call
“Mr. Watson, come here” —these dry words were immortalized in historical cannon on March 10, 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call to his assistant, Watson, who was just in the next room. We wonder if he might have chosen something a little more auspicious if he’d known how famous those first, crackly words would become? Either way, at least he didn’t have to pay for long distance!
First cell phone call
It’s hard to get excited about a landline call when you’re likely reading this article on your smartphone—a device that people use to do pretty much everything but make phone calls. Technophiles can celebrate April 3, 1973, as their holiday. On this date, Motorola employee Martin Cooper made the first cell phone call, standing outside in Manhattan, to a colleague in New Jersey. His immortal first words? “I’m ringing you just to see if my call sounds good at your end?” … and nearly 50 years later we’re still yelling, “Can you hear me now?!” Don’t miss these 100 interesting facts about practically everything.
First food microwaved
The first food ever microwaved on purpose was… exactly what you’d imagine it would be: Popcorn! On October 8, 1945, Raytheon patented the first microwave cooking oven. They revealed that their engineer Percy Spencer had first discovered the heating powers of microwaves when he was working with them in the lab and accidentally melted a candy bar in his pocket. He then tested it out officially on popcorn, which was a success, and an egg, which exploded in his face. (Don’t microwave whole eggs, kids.) For more tasty historical facts, check out these quirky facts about the history of your favorite foods.
First person to walk all the way around the world
On October 5, 1974, Dave Kunst walked back into Waseca, Minnesota, from the west, after having walked out of it from the east nearly four months earlier. He did not get lost on the way to the gas station to get a beer. Instead, he became the first verified person to walk all the way around the earth on foot. (Yes, that’s minus the oceans. He was talented but not that talented.) Already knew this one? Try these 16 history questions people always get wrong.
First television sitcom (you’ve never heard of)
People have been chuckling along to laugh tracks and the crazy antics of actors on television pretty much as long as there have been televisions. The first TV sitcom, Pinwright’s Progress, debuted on November 29, 1946, on the BBC and chronicled the adventures of the smallest store in the world. The first episode was about proprietor J. Pinwright, his pretty daughter, and his arch nemesis, along with his “helpful” staff who only made things worse. We would totally watch that.
First animal in space
Laika, the goodest good girl ever, became the first dog and animal to go into orbit on November 3, 1957. Tragically, the “charming, quiet mongrel” then became the first animal to die in space, as her ride, the Sputnik 2, was not engineered for reentry. At least she got her own monument? Check out these other brave animals that changed history.
Universal History Archive/Shutterstock
Instagram wasn’t a thing in the 1800s but that doesn’t mean young people didn’t love to take pictures of themselves! In 1839 Robert Cornelius had some extra time on his hands while working in his family’s store and decided to take a picture of himself, the first selfie. He would have had to hold his pose for at least several minutes however, which might explain why he didn’t do the infamous “duck lips” face.
First pedestrian hit and killed by a car
In a day and age where pedestrians getting hit by cars has unfortunately become so routine it hardly even makes the news anymore, it can be easy to forget that there had to have been a first person to be killed by those new-fangled mechanical horses. And that person was Bridget Driscoll when she was struck down by a demonstration car on August 17, 1896. The car was traveling at four miles per hour which makes it even harder to understand how the tragedy happened. The coroner said he hoped “such a thing would never happen again.” Hmm.
First text message
Texting is practically as essential to modern life as water and taquitos and you have Neil Papworth to thank for your cramped fingers. On December 3, 1992, he was working on developing SMS for Vodafone and sent the first text. What did he send? “Merry Christmas!” At least it’s better than “Mr. Watson, come here”? Check out these 20 mind-blowing historical connections.