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The Other Book... of the Most Perfectly Useless Information
By Mitchell Symons
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Mitchell Symons
All right reserved.
Orville Wright was involved in the first aircraft accident (his passenger was killed).
Thomas Jefferson grew the first tomatoes in the United States. He wanted to prove to Americans that they were not poisonous (which people believed them to be).
The first female host of Saturday Night Live was Candice Bergen.
The first photograph of the moon was taken in 1839 by Louis Daguerre, but the details were indiscernible. J. W. Draper took the first recognizable photograph in 1840.
Legend has it that the first electric Christmas lights were put together by a telephone switchboard installer. Candles were deemed to be too dangerous near a telephone switchboard, so the installer took some lights from an old switchboard, connected them together, hooked them up to a battery and put them around a Christmas tree.
The first process of color photography--using three colors--was patented (by William Morgan-Brown) in 1876.
Sunglasses first became popular in the 1920s, when movie stars began wearing them to counteract the photographers' bright lights.
Pickled herrings were first eaten in the fourteenth century.
Jim Morrison of the Doors was the first rock star to be arrested onstage.
The world's first cash dispenser was opened by British actor Reg Varney at Barclays Bank,Enfield, London, in 1967.
The first heart pacemaker (external) was fitted in 1952. The first internal pacemaker was fitted in 1958. The first successful heart operation had been carried out in 1896 by Louis Rehn in Frankfurt, Germany.
The duplicating machine was first patented by James Watt in 1780. The photocopier was invented in 1938 by Chester Carlson of New York.
Linoleum, the floor covering used in many kitchens, was first patented in 1863 by Frederick Walton of London.
The London Underground system was first used in 1863.
The typewriter was first patented by Henry Mill in 1714, but he never managed to market his invention.
The first toothbrush was invented in China in 1498.
In 1840, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow became the first American to have plumbing installed in his house.
The first word spoken by an ape in the movie Planet of the Apes was "Smile."
Ties were first worn in Croatia (which is why they were called cravats, originally à la croate).
The first phone directory in the United States was published by the New Haven District Telephone Company in Connecticut in 1878. It had only 50 names. The first British telephone directory was published by the London Telephone Company in 1880. It listed in excess of 250 names and numbers.
The first electric burglar alarm was installed in 1858 by one Edwin T. Holmes of Boston, Massachusetts. It is not recorded whether or not the alarm worked.
Marilyn Monroe's first modeling agency had offices in the Ambassador Hotel--the same hotel in which Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.
The first commercially successful escalator was patented in 1892 by Jesse Reno of New York.
The first police force was established in Paris in 1667.
The first taxis with metered fares were operational in 1907.
The first British Christmas card showed people drinking, and so the temperance societies tried to get it banned.
The first Harley-Davidson motorcycle was built in 1903 and used a tomato can as a carburetor.
Mark Knopfler wrote the first-ever CD single ("Brothers in Arms").
The first fax machine was patented in 1843, thirty-three years before Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone.
The first organized Christmas Day swim in the freezing-cold Serpentine in London's Hyde Park took place in 1864.
The first episode of Joanie Loves Chachi was the highest-rated American program in the history of Korean television. Chachi is Korean for "penis."
Pitcairn Airlines was the first airline to provide airsick bags (in 1922).
The first-ever Royal Christmas broadcast was made by King George V on radio in 1932.
The first contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 B.C.
The first song to be performed in outer space was "Happy Birthday"--sung by the Apollo 9 astronauts on March 8, 1969.
In 1933, on his thirty-second birthday, Rudy Vallee became the first person to receive a singing telegram.
The first personal computer, the Apple II, went on sale in 1977 (its hard drive had a capacity of just five megabytes).
Wrigley's first chewing gum was called "Vassar"
(after the college).
The U.K. boasts the world's first speed limit. It was established in 1865 and was set at 2 miles per hour. In 1903, the year the driver's license was introduced, it was raised to 20 miles per hour.
Burt Bacharach's first professional job was as an accompanist to Vic Damone.
The first credit card was Diners Club (in 1950). There were just two hundred card holders.
Popcorn was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner.
When the first ballpoint pen was sold in New York (on October 9, 1945), it was priced at $12.50, and yet more than five thousand people crashed the gates at Gimbel's to buy one.
The first domain name to be registered was Symbolics.com (in March 1985).
The first man-made object to break the sound barrier was a whip.
In 1894, boxing became the first sportto be filmed.
Benjamin Franklin was America's first newspaper cartoonist.
Glenn Miller was the first artist to receive a gold record (for "Chattanooga Choo Choo" in 1942).
In 1954, Richard Herrick received the first successful kidney transplant (it was donated by his twin brother, Ronald).
The first motel--The Motel Inn--opened in 1925 in San Luis Obispo, California.
The first CD released in the United States was Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA.
In 1915, Birth of a Nation became the first movie to be shown at the White House.
People Born on Significant Days in History
Michael Imperioli--the day Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa took over the Central African Republic after a coup (January 1, 1966)
Nicolas Cage--the day the British Leyland Motor Company challenged the U.S. blockade by selling 450 buses to Cuba (January 7, 1964)
Steven Soderbergh--the day George Wallace became governor of Alabama (January 14, 1963)
Excerpted from The Other Book... of the Most Perfectly Useless Information by Mitchell Symons Copyright © 2006 by Mitchell Symons. Excerpted by permission.
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