Mental Floss

Tuesday Turnip

David K. Israel

It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip Google search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up." Today I stumbled upon this wonderful collection of "firsts", which a kindly web-poster put together for us, simply by typing in "the first."

Here's a sampling:

The first bicyle: It was called a 'dandy-horse' or Draisine after its inventor Karl von Drais. The rider used his feet to push himself along, while balanced between two wheels.

The first motor car: In 1885, Karl Benz produced a petrol powered car in Germany.

The first beer: The Sumerians of ancient Mespotamia had a goddess of beer called Ninkasi, and circa 6000 BC were making beer from malted barley. Naturally they also invented drinking songs - the clay tablets survived the festivities.

The first tissue paper: A soft paper used for blowing noses was first described by an English traveller in Japan in 1637. After the deed was done, he wrote, "they fling (it) away as a dirty thing".

The first printed book: "The Diamond Sutra" was published in China, using wooden blocks in 868 AD.

The first VW: Conceived at a meeting between Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche in May 1934, the first VW was required to carry two adults and three children.

The first wire coat hanger: In 1903, Albert Parkhouse of Michigan was a factory employee making wire lampshade frames. The owner of the factory did not provide enough hooks to hang up his worker's coats. Albert twisted a piece of wire into a now familiar shape to hold the coat. His employer stole the idea and went on to make a fortune.

The first yo-yo: There is an image on an ancient Grecian vase, dated to 500 BC, depicting a child with what appears to be a yo-yo.

[For a more complete list of "firsts," check out Ian Harrison's The Book of Firsts.]