A First For Everything
Did you know that the first person to be fined for speeding was Walter Arnold in 1896? Apparently, this reckless British driver was doing an outrageous 8 mph in a 2 mph zone. So there really is a first for everything.
Or, how about human flight? Most people will declare, “Surely the first to fly were the Wright Brothers back around 1903”. When actually it was Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlandes, who, in 1783, took off in the very first hot air balloon (created by the Montgolfier Brothers) above the skies of French Lyon.
Then there’s the very first version of the thing you are using to surf the Web (and, yes, a smartphone is one too). People have all sorts of ideas about when the first computer was developed. But you could say the original computer may have been developed by the Sumerians somewhere between 2700 and 2300 BC as an abacus. More closely related ancestors, however, appeared more recently in history. Charles Babbage and his clever wife, Georgiana (she perhaps the unsung brains behind the invention) developed the concept of an “analytical engine”, which was basically a mechanical computer, back in 1837 (after first efforts to develop a “difference engine” in 1822 were hobbled by cost).
Actually, the first electronic computer didn’t get invented until 1936 to 1938, when a German inventor named Konrad Zuse, created it in his parent’s living room.
If that’s too technical, think of food. Specifically: ice cream. The first incarnations of this fabulous food were developed by the Persians way back before 400 BC. While, more recognizable variations similar to modern day ice cream varieties were developed back in the early 1700’s. Nice.
Or, how about hamburgers? Food historians estimate the humble hamburger was first produced some time in the late 19th century, perhaps in America (which surely must be the ancestral home of this ubiquitous dish).
These firsts are all very fine indeed. But there are other firsts that we also ought to remember and claim. Like the time you first kissed. Or, your first day at school, and that very first job you got.
These pioneering experiences have had a formative effect on you, and though they may not occupy your thoughts, they reflect a long list of “firsts” that helped to shape you as the person you are.
Like so many well-known inventions, your individual history deserves remembering and sharing too. Why? Because, apart from being part from linking into a broader shared experience of life, they help to define our way of looking at life. History and beginnings aren’t just about inanimate things. They reveal what it is to be human, learning, and finding who we are in life.
So, here’s to your personal firsts! Some were wonderful, and a few much less so. Yet they all have their place in the amazing story of you in the grand schemes of history. Flying is fun, whilst ice cream is nicer. But I reckon the history that matters most to you is the one you need to keep.
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