For part 1 of 35 Obscure and Interesting ‘Firsts’ You Should Know About, click here.
1First Suicide Hotline
Chad Varah was a priest who started the first suicide hotline in 1953. He did this after conducting his first funeral very early in his career for a 14-year-old girl who took her own life after having no one to talk to when her first period came and believed she’d contracted an STD.
2. The first Roman fire brigade was created to be very lucrative. Arriving at the scene the fire fighters did nothing while a price was negotiated. Failing to reach a deal, the structure was allowed to burn to the ground after which an offer was made to purchase it for a fraction of its value.
3. The first animal to ask an existential question was a parrot named Alex. He asked what color he was, and learned that he was “grey.” His actual last words were: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”
4. After becoming the first white man to run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, French sprinter Christophe Lemaitre received a formal letter of invitation from the Ku Klux Klan. He did not respond.
5. “Stagecoach Mary” was the first African-American woman mail carrier in the USA. She worked the route 8 years and never missed a day. She won the contract because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of 6 horses (she was 60 years old at the time).
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The first successful C-section birth in which both mother and child survive was completed in 1826 by a woman named Margaret Ann Bulky who used a male surgeon alias (James Barry) to conduct the surgery. She was only discovered to be a woman postmortem.
7. An Italian astronaut named Luca Parmitano during a 6-hour spacewalk on the ISS, nearly became the first man to drown in space when his helmet began to inexplicably fill with water.
8. Reinhold Messner was the first man to summit Everest without oxygen, was also the first to summit all 14,8000m peaks, reaching those without oxygen as well.
9. The first woman to run for President of the United States was Victoria Woodhull in 1872, 50 years before women could vote. She had Frederick Douglass as her running mate and spent her election day in jail due to being arrested for obscenity.
10. In the 1990s, the South African government dismantled all of its nuclear weapons becoming the first nation in the world which voluntarily gave up all nuclear arms it had developed itself.
11First 3-way Jeopardy! Tie
In 2007, reigning Jeopardy! champion Scott Weiss purposely placed his final bet in such a way as to force the first three-way tie in the game’s history. He said he knew he could have bet more and won the game, but thought it would be fun to force a tie instead.
12. Wilma Rudolph had polio as an infant and was unable to walk properly until she was 11. For several years, her family had to massage her legs four times a day, and she had to wear a metal brace. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in an Olympic event.
13. One of the earliest application of the concept of “women and children first” was during the sinking of HMS Birkenhead in 1852. There were not enough lifeboats and the soldiers stood firm on board even as the ship broke up, allowing the women and children to board the boats safely and escape the sinking.
14. When NASA was preparing for Sally Ride to travel as the first American female astronaut, engineers initially were at a loss about how many tampons to send. “Is 100 the right number?” they asked her. “No. That would not be the right number,” she replied.
15. A depressed Manchester teen used several fake online personas to convince his best friend to murder him, and after surviving the attack, he became the first person in UK history to be charged with inciting their own murder.
16Egg or Chicken
Science has shown that the egg came first, not the Chicken. The first egg was laid by a bird that was not a chicken. The first amniotic (hard-shelled) egg laid on land was around 312 million years ago. Chickens however were domesticated 8000 years ago from a bird named red junglefowl.
17. The first ever science fiction novel, ‘A True Story’ was written in the 2nd century AD. The novel includes travel to the outer space, flying to the Moon, alien life forms, interplanetary warfare and continents across the ocean.
18. When the territory of Wyoming applied to join the US, congress told them they’d have to stop letting women vote. Their response was, “we will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women”. In 1890 they joined as the first and only state to allow women to vote.
19. Discovery Channel survival expert Ed Stafford wanted to be the first person to walk the length of the Amazon River from source to sea. He thought it might take a year, but the actual endeavor took him 860 days to accomplish.
20. In 1887 a group of men added Susanna M. Salter to the mayoral ballot of Argonia, Kansas, as a prank to discourage women from running for office. She then won by a 2/3 majority and became America's first female mayor.
21First 7-Continent Band
In 2013, Metallica became the first band to perform on all seven continents by performing live and un-amplified (to protect the environment) in Antarctica.
22. Ham the chimp who was the first hominid in space was trained by NASA to operate a capsule in space. His trainer described the moment he was recovered from his capsule following the project as, “I have never seen such terror on a chimp’s face.”
23. The first U.S. gold rush started in North Carolina in 1803 when a 12-year-old boy found a 17-pound gold nugget on his father’s farm. This gold rush supplied all the gold for the nation’s mints until 1829.
24. The first known recording of a human voice was made in 1860, but was only intended to show a sound wave visually, not to be played back. In 2008, it was optically scanned and converted to a sound file, revealing it to be a man singing “Au clair de la lune.”
25. The first black-white interracial kiss on American television was on an episode of Star Trek. However, the producers were worried about the show being banned in the South because of it, and tried to shoot alternate versions of the shot. The actors intentionally flubbed those shots.