50 Obscure and Interesting ‘Firsts’ You Should Know About – Part 2

For part 1 of 35 Obscure and Interesting ‘Firsts’ You Should Know About, click here.

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26First Rap Oscar

Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” was the first rap song to win an Oscar for Best Original Song, but Eminem did not even watch the awards because he did not think he stood a chance at winning. Instead, he fell asleep watching cartoons with his daughter.

27. When Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female recipient of a medical degree in the U.S., applied to Hobart College, the dean decided to hold a vote in the class she was applying to. If just one of the 150 male students objected, she would be rejected. All the 150 young men voted to accept her.

28. The USA had a lesbian First Lady in 1885-1886. She was Rose Cleveland, Grover Cleveland’s youngest sister and acting US First Lady before Grover married in 1886. She was a lesbian and had a relationship with a wealthy widow named Evangeline Marrs Simpson, with explicitly erotic correspondence.

29. The earliest form of smallpox immunization was used in China in the 1500s. Doctors would take ground up scabs from people with mild cases of the disease, and blow the material into their nostrils. This lead to a mild version of the disease which had a mortality rate of ~2%.(20-30% if untreated).

30. Rollercoasters were invented to distract Americans from sin. In the 1880s, hosiery businessman LaMarcus Thompson didn’t like that Americans were going to places like saloons and brothels and created the first rollercoaster on Coney Island to persuade them to go there instead.

31First Ninth Symphony Performance

After Beethoven first performed his Ninth Symphony, he couldn’t hear the rapturous applause it received due to his deafness. One of his singers had to approach him and turn him around so that he could see the standing ovation he was receiving.

32. In the late 17th century, a pirate named Henry Avery became the richest pirate in the world after raiding a treasure laden ship belonging to the Grand Ruler of India. He stole £600,000 in precious metals and jewels, equivalent to £89.6 million today. The world’s first worldwide manhunt was called on him.

33. A Romanian traveler named Dumitru Dan was credited with being the first man to walk around the world, including walking on the deck of the ships he traveled on.

34. Aloha Wanderwell was the first woman to drive around the world. Along the way, she befriended Chinese bandits, captured the first footage of the Bororo tribe, and disguised herself as a man to pray in Mecca.

35. The thief who committed America’s first bank robbery (stealing $162,821) was caught because he deposited the money back into the same bank.

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36First Anti-Hacking Law

The first anti-hacking law was passed after President Ronald Reagan saw the movie War Games and asked his staff if this could happen. A week later the response was “Mr. President, the problem is much worse than you think.”

37. Charles Darwin and Joseph Hooker started the world's first terraforming project on Ascension Island in 1850. The project has turned an arid volcanic wasteland into a self-sustaining and self-reproducing ecosystem made completely of foreign plants from all over the world.

38. Noor Inayat Khan was an Indian woman who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for her service during World War 2. She was the first female wireless operator to be parachuted into France to assist the French resistance. Later betrayed by a member of the resistance, she would be executed in Dachau.

39. Harvard’s first black faculty member was a dentist. Dr. George Franklin Grant joined the Department of mechanical dentistry in 1871. Also an inventor, he patented the wooden golf tee. Previously, golfers carried around buckets of sand, placing their balls on little piles as they went.

40. Hermann Buhl was the first man to climb Nanga Parbat (9th tallest mountain in the world) pushed through the final 4300 feet alone by taking a high dose of amphetamines and drinking tea brewed from coca leaves. He then stood on a ledge overnight before heading down.

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41First Complete HIV Cure

A man named Timothy Ray Brown was cured of HIV in 2007 with a bone marrow transplant from someone with genes resistant to HIV. He became the first person to ever be cured of HIV.

42. The first man in England to use an umbrella (in early 1750s), Jonas Hanway was pelted with insults and trash as men using umbrellas was taboo. In the minds of many Brits, umbrella usage was symptomatic of a weakness of character. The British also regarded umbrellas as too French.

43. In 1896, Alice Guy-Blache became the first female film director to direct a fantasy film. It is argued that it may even be the first fictional film.

44. The first man-made object to reach the stratosphere was a meter long shell fired from the Paris Gun, used by the Germans in World War 1 to bombard Paris from 80 miles away. The curvature of the earth had to be considered when calculating where the shells would land.

45. John Casor became the first man in colonial America to be declared slave for life in 1654-55. Till then, even captured Africans were indentured workers in law. Ironically, a former black indentured servant, Anthony Johnson, brought the case against Casor, who had worked on his plantation.

46First Insulin Trial

In 1922, scientists went to a hospital ward with comatose children, dying from diabetic keto-acidosis. They went from bed to bed injecting the kids with a new extract named insulin. As they injected the last comatose child, the first one injected began to awaken.

47. The first man to perform cardiac catheterization, did it on himself then walked downstairs to the radiology department to take the x-ray to prove you would not die. Werner Forssmann was fired, became a Nazi and then won the Nobel Prize.

48. The first Christmas party held at the US Embassy in the USSR featured three performing seals, who came into the room balancing a Christmas tree, a tray of glasses, and a bottle of champagne. Afterward, the seal’s trainer (quite drunk), passed out, and the seals galloped freely in the house.

49. Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish modern pentathlete, was the first athlete to ever be disqualified for doping in the Olympics. He drank ‘two beers’ to calm his nerves before pistol shooting, giving him an unfair advantage.

50. Robert Williams, a Ford assembly line worker, is the first human in history to have been killed by a robot. He was hit by a robotic arm in 1979.


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