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We Think We Know When These Historical Firsts Happened, But We're So Wrong

FEBRUARY 22, 2017  —  By Corinne Sanders

History can be a tricky subject to nail down, especially when you're trying accurately portray significant events.

Nobody is alive to confirm firsthand whether certain things have happened or not, or when exactly they took place. That's why we keep records of important happenings, but sometimes we mistake their full meanings -- or they simply seem unbelievable. It's no surprise, then, that some of the most noteworthy historical firsts occurred much earlier than many of us would ever guess.

You might be in for a bit of a shock, because these 10 historical events happened long before you think.

1. Though Charles Lindbergh impressively flew across the Atlantic by himself, he wasn't the first to make such a journey. British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown pioneered the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919.

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2. You may be unaware of when the first vending machine was invented, but you'd likely never guess that it was in the first century. Greek mathematician and engineer Hero of Alexandria created a device that accepted coins and then dispensed holy water.

3. Kodak introduced the first color film in 1935, but the first color photograph pictured below was taken by Thomas Sutton in 1861. He used the three-color method, the foundation for virtually all color imaging, which was suggested by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell in 1855. The ribbon was photographed three different times with a red, green, and blue filter before all the images were superimposed together.

4. While Jackie Robinson may have been the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era, Moses Fleetwood Walker got there first in 1884. He played for the Toledo Blue Stockings before an injury sent him to the minor leagues.

5. Some would assume that cell phones were just a dream in the '70s, but the first handheld mobile phone was introduced by Motorola in 1973. The devices started gaining popularity in the early 1980s.

6. You probably remember sending your first text message in the early 2000s. However, the first text was actually sent in 1992 by 22-year-old British engineer Neil Papworth, who helped develop SMS for Vodafone. He sent it to the company's executive, Richard Jarvis, saying "Merry Christmas."

7. We still haven't reached the milestone of having the first female president of the U.S., so it seems crazy that the first female presidential candidate lived during the 1800s -- but it's true! Suffragette and women's rights advocate Victoria Woodhull ran in 1872, 48 years before American women got the right to vote.

8. Names like Henry Ford or Karl Benz might pop into your head when thinking about the first automobile, but François Isaac de Rivaz actually invented the first one powered by an internal combustion engine in 1808 -- though he wasn't very successful. He used hydrogen and oxygen for power instead of gasoline.

9. The first personal computer, the IBM Auto-Point Computer, came along in 1957. It cost the equivalent of about $470,000 today and was used by military and government agencies for mass data calculations.

10. Joseph C. Gayetty was credited with the invention of commercial toilet paper, but many historians have suggested that it actually originated in sixth-century China.

(via All That Is Interesting)

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Well, I definitely learned a lot today! Which first did you not know about? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to share this information to enlighten others.

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