Tuesday Turnip: 12 Pittsburgh Firsts

David K. Israel

It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

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1. First Big Mac - 1967. Created by Jim Delligatti at his Uniontown McDonald's, the Big Mac debuted and was test marketed in three other Pittsburgh-area McDonald's restaurants in 1967... Bellevue and Butler. By 1968 it was a mainstay on McDonald's menus throughout the country and eventually, the world.

2. The Smiley was the first Internet emoticon, created in 1980, by Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Scott Fahlman.

3. First Polio Vaccine - March 26, 1953. The polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas E. Salk, a 38-year-old University of Pittsburgh researcher and professor, and his staff at the University of Pittsburgh.

4. First U.S. Public Television Station - WQED - April 1, 1954. WQED, operated by the Metropolitan Pittsburgh educational Station, was the first community-sponsored educational television station in America and was also the first to telecast classes to elementary schools (1955).

5. The First Gas Station - December, 1913. In 1913, the first automobile service station, built by Gulf Refining Company, opened in Pittsburgh at Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in East Liberty. It was designed by J.H. Giesey.

6. First Robotics Institute - 1979. The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1979 to conduct basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks.

7. First Banana Split - 1904. The banana split was invented by Dr. David Strickler, a pharmacist, at Strickler's Drug Store in La trobe, Pennsylvania.

8. First Mr. Yuk Sticker - 1971. Mr. Yuk was created at the Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh after research indicated that the skull and crossbones previously used to identify poisons had little meaning to the children of today (for most children it means exciting things like pirates and adventure). Covering 27 counties and 33 percent of Pennsylvania 's population, the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is the largest such center in the United States.

9. First Ferris Wheel - 1892/1893. The first Ferris Wheel, invented by Pittsburgh native and civil engineer, George Washington Gale Ferris (1859-1896) was in operation at the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) in Chicago. It was over 264 feet high and was capable of carrying more than 2,000 passengers at a time.

10. First Night World Series Game - 1971. Game 4 of the 1971 World Series was the first night game in Series history. Pittsburgh tied the series in that game with a 4-3 win and went on to win the series, 4 games to 3. This was one of the last big moments in the career of well-loved Pirate, Roberto Clemente. Fourteen and a half months after the 1971 World Series, he died in a plane crash off the coast of his native Puerto Rico as he attempted to take food, clothing and medical supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

11. First Bingo Game - Hugh J. Ward first came up with the concept of bingo in Pittsburgh and began running the game at carnivals in the early 1920s, taking it nation-wide in 1924. He secured a copyright on the game and wrote a book of Bingo rules in1933.

12. First Pull-Tab on Cans - 1962. The pull-tab was developed by Alcoa and was first used by Iron City Brewery in 1962. For many years, pull-tabs were only used in this area. And if you love all things Pitt, be sure to check out my post on Pittsburghese

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