The Amazing Mirvana

Travels, and makes stuff.

Pittsburgh Firsts

My mom sent me this “spam” today, but it reminded me of some reasons why Pittsburgh doesn’t suck:


Pittsburgh (and some surrounding areas) was the first city in the world to do a lot of
neat things! Here are a few of the best known.
First Heart, Liver, Kidney Transplant – December 3, 1989 The first simultaneous
heart, liver and kidney transplant was done at Presbyterian-University Hospital.

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

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.

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.

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.

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. By 1968 it was a mainstay on McDonald’s menus throughout the country and,
eventually, the world.

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.

First Retractable Dome – September 1961 Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena boasts the world’s
first auditorium with a retractable roof.

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).

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.

First All-Aluminum Building – ALCOA – August 1953 The first aluminum-faced skyscraper
was the Alcoa Building, a 30-story, 410 foot structure with thin stamped aluminum panels
forming the exterior walls.

First Zippo Lighter – 1932 George G. Blaisdell invented the Zippo lighter in 1932 in
Bradford, Pennsylvania. Although hardly a community “in the surrounding area,” you can
even find the name of the manufacturing location, either Bradford or Niagara Falls,
Canada, stamped on the bottom of every Zippo lighter. The name Zippo was chosen by
Blaisdell because he liked the sound of the word “zipper” – which was patented around the
same time in nearby Meadville, PA.

First Bingo Game – early 1920’s 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
in 1933.

First U.S. Commercial Radio Station – KDKA – November 2, 1920 Dr. Frank Conrad,
assistant chief engineer of Westinghouse Electric, first constructed a transmitter and
installed it in a garage near his home in Wilkinsburg in 1916. The station was licensed
as 8XK. (Now there’s a real trivia question) At 6 p.m. on Nov. 2, 1920, 8KX became KDKA
Radio and began broadcasting at 100 watts from a makeshift shack atop one of the
Westinghouse manufacturing buildings in East Pittsburgh.

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.
The First Baseball Stadium in the U.S. – 1909 In 1909 the first baseball stadium,
Forbes Field, was built in Pittsburgh, followed soon by similar stadiums in
Chicago,Cleveland,Boston, and New York. Forbes Field closed in 1970 when Three Rivers
Stadium opened. PNC Park is one of the newest replacements, opening in 2001.

First Motion Picture Theater – 1905 The first theater in the world devoted to the
exhibition of motion pictures was the “Nickelodeon,” opened by Harry Davis on Smithfield
Street in Pittsburgh.

First Banana Split – 1904 The banana split was invented by Dr. David Strickler, a
pharmacist, at Strickler’s Drug Store in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
The First World Series – 1903 The Boston Pilgrims defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates
five games to three in baseball’s first modern World Series in! 1903. The Pirates lost
the final game 4-3, before a crowd of 7,455 in Boston. Four of the series’ games were
played in Pittsburgh.

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.

Long-Distance Electricity – 1885 Westinghouse Electric developed alternating current,
allowing long-distance transmission of electricity for the first time.

First Air Brake – 1869 The first practical air brake for railroads was invented by
George Westinghouse in the 1860s and patented in 1869. In the same year he organized the
Westinghouse Air Brake Company. With additional automatic features incorporated into its
design, the air brake became widely accepted, and the Ra! ilroad Safety Appliance Act of
1893 made air brakes compulsory on All-American trains.

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