25 Defining ‘Firsts’ That Were Truly Groundbreaking


1John Glenn

John Glenn

John Glenn was the first person to eat in space aboard Friendship 7 in 1962. At that time it was unknown if ingestion and absorption of nutrients were possible in zero gravity. Glenn ate applesauce, demonstrating that people could eat, swallow, and digest food in a weightless environment.

2. In 2004, a 15-year-old girl named Jeanna Giese was bitten by a bat she picked up. After showing signs of rabies a month later, doctors devised a last-ditch experimental treatment that cured her. She is the first known person to have survived after showing rabies symptoms.

3. Thomas Granger was the first person to have been executed in the Massachusetts Bay colony. He was guilty of sex with a turkey.

4. Ida May Fuller was the first person to receive a Social Security check and collected a total of $22,889, despite only having contributed $25.

5. The first person (Kenny Sykaluk) to hear the Journey song "Only The Young" was a cystic fibrosis patient in Ohio. The band flew out and played it for the young fan. He died the next day, with a walkman containing the single still in his hands.

6Marian Rejewski

Marian Rejewski

The first person to break the Enigma code was actually a Polish man in 1932 named Marian Rejewski, whose work also helped jump-start English efforts against the upgraded World War 2 version of the Enigma.

7. Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn was a baseball pitcher and Hall of Famer who, in 1886, became the first person to be captured on camera giving the middle finger.

8. Astronaut Sunita Williams was the first person to run a marathon in space, finishing in 4 hours and 24 minutes on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station.

9. Ol' Dirty Bastard was the first person in California to be arrested under the then new law against being a convicted felon wearing a bulletproof vest.

10. John Carpenter was the first person to win the game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." He used none of his lifelines until the million dollar question. He used phone-a-friend to call his dad and tell him that he was about to win and then answered the question correctly without help.

11Annie Taylor

Annie Taylor

Annie Taylor was the first person to successfully descend Niagara Falls. She used a custom barrel stuffed with a mattress. She tested it by sending a cat over the falls. It survived and 2 days later she made the journey on her 63rd birthday.

12. Roald Amundsen who was the first person to reach both poles was also the first person to reach each pole. He was the first to reach the South Pole first in 1910, and also the first to reach (verified and credibly) the North in 1926.

13. Britney Gallivan, a high school girl became the first person to fold a paper in half 12 times. She also derived the mathematical equation that describes the limit of paper folding.

14. Samuel Caldwell was the first person in America to be arrested for selling marijuana. He was arrested in 1937 for selling two joints and was sentenced to a $1000 fine and four years of hard labor. This happened in one of the only places in America where pot is legal today, Denver, Colorado.

15. Satoshi Furukawa, who was the first Japanese person to go into space, was a heavy smoking, whiskey-drinking, middle-aged news anchorman.

16Joseph Hary Neesima

Joseph Hary Neesima

The first Japanese to obtain a bachelor's degree was a 21-year-old named Joseph Hary Neesima who snuck a ride to America aboard a U.S. ship in 1864. The ship's captain had to hide him from Japanese customs officials, as Japan still had the death penalty for anyone who traveled abroad without permission.

17. Louis Le Prince was actually the first person to invent a motion picture camera, 3 years before Thomas Edison, but was not able to publicly showcase the device as when he was going to retrieve it, he entered a train and was never seen again.

18. John Michell is called both the father of seismology and the father of magnetometry. “One of the greatest unsung scientists of all time”, he was the first person known to propose the existence of black holes and that earthquakes travel in waves. No one knows what he looked like.

19. Gilda Radner was the first person to say "b*tch" on television. The censors let her get away with it because she was portraying a "sweet, nice old lady."

20. Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English channel in 1926, beating the previous time record by nearly 2 hours. The first person to greet Ederle as she came ashore on Kingsdown beach was a British immigration officer who requested to see her passport.

21Alain Robert

Alain Robert

Alain Robert who was the first person to climb the exterior of the Sear's Tower did so by using suction cups, while wearing a homemade Spider-Man suit.

22. French actor Frank Leboeuf who appeared in the movie “The Theory of Everything” is the first person to have both won the World Cup and appear in an Oscar-nominated film.

23. Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane was the first person to say "f*ck" on American TV.

24. Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was the first European person in recorded history to have read without moving his lips.

25. Courteney Cox was the first person to ever say "period" on American TV, in a Tampax commercial.