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Top 10 Firsts that Weren’t Actually Firsts

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Shane Fraser

First!!! Not. From inventing the Interview, to featuring the first interracial kiss on TV, to inventing the printing press, these firsts weren’t quite so legendary. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Firsts that Weren’t Actually Firsts.

Special thanks to our user jwiking62 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Firsts+That+Weren%E2%80%99t+Actually+First.


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Script written by Shane Fraser

Top 10 Firsts that Weren’t Actually Firsts

First!!! Not. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 firsts that weren’t actually first.

For this list, we’re looking at moments, milestones and inventions in history that are famously and wrongly considered ‘firsts.’

#10: Al Gore Inventing the Internet

You may’ve heard the story of former U.S. vice president Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet. And though he did help with the development and legislation of such technology, the creation of the Internet actually goes back a lot further. ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, was developed in 1969, and established the first network link in history when the word “login” was successfully sent between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. In the early ‘70s, while working with ARPANET, Vint Cerf and Bob Khan invented Internet protocol and transmission control protocol, which are the building blocks of the World Wide Web. Because of this, Cerf and Kahn are considered the fathers of the Internet.

#9: “Star Trek” Featuring the First Scripted Interracial Kiss on U.S. TV

It’s often said that the 1968 “Star Trek” episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” featured the first scripted interracial kiss on American TV. Kirk and Uhura embrace and appear to touch lips. However, many contend – including William Shatner himself – that they actually turned their heads at the last second. But it’s important to note that this wasn’t the first interracial kiss on TV: the plays “Hot Summer Night” and “You in Your Small Corner” were broadcast on British TV in 1959 and 1962, respectively, and both featured kisses between white females and black males. It wasn’t even the first interracial kiss on American TV: Nancy Sinatra kissed Sammy Davis, Jr. on the 1967 special “Movin’ with Nancy,” while the ‘50s classic “I Love Lucy” showed kisses between Lucy and her Cuban husband Ricky.

#8: Johannes Gutenberg Inventing the Printing Press

In 1439, Johannes Gutenberg gave knowledge to the world by inventing the printing press, which allowed for the mass-production and dissemination of information. Today, the name Gutenberg is synonymous with publishing. However, while Gutenberg was the first to introduce the press to Western civilization, the Koreans had developed their own printing press 200 years before – with the Chinese inventing movable type printing during the Song Dynasty even earlier than that. The Korean Goryeo Dynasty had printing presses as early as 1234 through its metal movable type printing technology, and was publishing before Europe even knew it was possible. And what’s most impressive of all is that books made in the 1300s are still readable today.

#7: Betsy Ross Making the First American Flag

Betsy Ross is often credited with designing the first American flag in 1776, but this is more fable than fact. It’s possible that she may’ve had some input in the design, but her status as creator comes only from the writings of her grandson, so we must take this with a grain of salt. According to the journals of the Continental Congress, the true inventor is Francis Hopkinson, a judge and Declaration signer, who was appointed to design the first official flag of the newly founded United States of America. Hopkinson began the flag design in 1776, and the stars and stripes were flown in 1777.

#6: Charles Darwin Developing the Theory of Evolution

Charles Darwin is acknowledged as the founder of evolution theory. Upon completing “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, Darwin popularized the concept of natural selection and became the architect for the most important scientific revolution of the last 200 years. However, it was Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus who derived evolutionary theory more than 60 years before Charles; Charles simply built on his grandfather’s already-solid findings. Also, at the same time Darwin was writing “On the Origin of Species,” fellow naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace was formulating his own theory independently of Darwin. Though Darwin got the credit, Wallace’s findings were just as important – and they were published alongside some of Charles’ findings in 1858.

#5: Disney Releasing the First Feature-Length Animated Movie

Walt Disney’s 1937 classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has long been considered the first full-length cel animated movie. Though it was the first in American history, several films from other countries came before it, including one 20 years earlier. “The Apostle,” released in 1917 in Argentina, and lasting 70 minutes, is the first known animated feature film. It was a well-received satire on the state of Argentina at the time. Unfortunately the only copy of the picture was destroyed in a fire, so the film is considered “lost.” The oldest surviving animated feature film is thus Germany’s “The Adventures of Prince Achmed,” released in 1926 and running 65 minutes long.

#4: Microsoft, Apple or IBM Designing the First Desktop Computer

Most people think that Microsoft, Apple or IBM created the first desktop or personal computer, but it was actually a well-known albeit less-renowned company named Xerox PARC that started the revolution. The Xerox Alto was released in 1973—11 years before the Macintosh—and was the first desktop or personal computer. It operated on a graphical user interface system (or GUI), which is now the industry standard way to interact with graphical icons rather than text, as was the case with the pseudo-calculators of early computing history. GUI was adopted by succeeding computers – and is used in many other portable devices – so it’s virtually impossible to think of one without the other.

#3: Alexander Graham Bell Inventing the Telephone

As the proclaimed inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell is responsible for all the electronic voice communication ever done… except he wasn’t the first. Italian inventor Antonio Meucci designed a primordial telephone, first demonstrating the product in 1856 – years before Bell did in the 1870s. Meucci filed a patent caveat for a commercial telephone, meaning that a true patent would be given if the idea actually became an invention. Unfortunately, Meucci failed, and Bell snatched up the patent—and Meucci’s ideas, some say. Bell patented the telephone in 1876, but not without having to fight charges that he and lawyers had defrauded the patent system and left Meucci and Elisha Gray—who invented the liquid transmitter—out of the history books.

#2: Thomas Edison Inventing the Light Bulb

Thomas Edison is credited with many inventions that he simply improved upon rather than created. That’s the case with his most famous credited invention, the lightbulb. In fact, several inventors held light bulb patents before Edison, some of which dated back to 1841. One of these men was Frederick de Moleyns of England for his incandescent lamp. Later patents were filed by American John W. Starr in 1845, Russian Alexander Lodygin in 1874, and Canadian partners Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans, also in 1874. Edison filed his famous patent in 1879, the same year Britain’s Joseph Swan filed to patent his own commercially viable light bulb. However, all inventors owe their designs to Humphry Davy, who created the first incandescent light in 1802.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Pythagoras Inventing the Pythagorean Theorem
Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Chinese & Babylonians Were Using Pythagorean Principles 1,500 Years Earlier

- RMS Titanic Making the First SOS Distress Call
It Was Actually Made by the East Goodwin Lightship in 1899

#1: Christopher Columbus Discovering the Americas

Christopher Columbus is often considered the first European to discover North America, but those who know their history know that this is far from the truth. It was the Vikings, led by Leif Erikson, who landed in Newfoundland about 500 years before Columbus set sail. Also, Columbus didn’t “discover” the mainland of North America, as is often supposed: he actually sailed around the Caribbean islands in 1492 and eventually landed on the coast of Venezuela in South America. Meanwhile, though some historians argue that Spanish slavers reached Florida before him, the European explorer Juan Ponce de Leon is often credited with discovering the continental United States of America in 1513.


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