THERE always has to the first time something gets done. All the things that have become common place, which we now take for granted had a first time they happened. There are many examples of influential firsts that have had a great impact on society, culture and the world. Here are some of the most notable firsts in history.
The first internet virus: the Morris worm
In 1988, Robert Tappan Morris released the first internet worm on the cyber world. With about 60,000 computers attached to the internet, the worm affected over 10% of them, slowing them down to the point of becoming unusable. A Cornel University student, Morris claimed he only wanted to gauge the size of the internet, but the damage he caused is estimated between 10m - 100 m dollars.
The first person to be conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF): Louise Brown.
On November 10 1977, Lesley Brown, who had been unable to conceive children with her husband due to blocked fallopian tubes, underwent in vitro fertilization (IVF), performed by Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. Louise Joy Brown was born on July 25, 1978, at Oldham General Hospital, Greater Manchester, England. Delivered by a planned caesarean section, she weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces. Today, Louise Brown lives a healthy full life and conceived a child naturally in 2006.
The first African American individual to play major league baseball: Jackie Robinson
It was Robinson who broke the color line and ended a sixty-year ban and segregation in professional baseball. On April 15, 1947 he made his Major League debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American Major League Baseball player in the modern era. During the sixty-year ban, all African American players were relegated to the Negro Leagues. Jackie Robinson’s achievements and personality had a tremendous impact on the subsequent American Civil Rights Movement. He played in six World Series, while contributing to the Dodgers 1955 title. Robinson was selected to six consecutive All-Star games, won Rookie of the Year in 1947, and National League MVP in 1949.
The first military offensive of World War II: Germany invades Poland
The Treaty of Versailles, one of the peace treaties signed at the end of ww1 in 1919, required that Germany accepts sole responsibility for causing the war. But in the late 1930’s Adolf Hitler began to create one of the biggest military powers in the world. In 1939, Germany demanded for the return of Danzig (Poland’s principal seaport) and part of the Polish ‘corridor’ granted to Poland from German territory in the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Poland refused to agree to the German’s demands and on September 1, 1939, German forces launched a campaign against Poland and defeated the country in three weeks. Germany had launched the first military offensive, and World War II had begun. Two days later Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. By 1941 all of the world’s major powers were entered into the conflict. The civilian and military deaths of WWII exceeded 55 million people.
The first people to successfully take flight: Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes
Contrary to what most people think, the Wright Brothers were not the first people to successfully fly. On November 21, 1783, the first manned hot air balloon flight was made in Paris, France, by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes. After numerous experimental tests, the pair took flight over Château de la Muette, in the western outskirts of Paris. They flew for about 3,000 feet (910 m) and a distance of nine kilometres. The men became the first pioneers of aviation. But two years later Jean-François Pilâtre was killed when his balloon crashed near Wimereux in the Pas-de-Calais during an attempt to fly across the English Channel. He and his companion, Pierre Romain, also became the first known fatalities of an air crash.
The first person to die from the AIDS pandemic: Ken Horne
Although there were many isolated incidents of HIV reported in the 1960s and 70’s, the disease first became acknowledged in the 1980s in America.
On April 24, 1980, San Francisco resident Ken Horne became the first case of AIDS to be reported to the American Center for Disease Control. He soon died of his illness, becoming the first reported death of the AIDS pandemic. Suddenly, a high proportion of gay men in San Francisco and New York began to get the HIV virus. In 1981, 121 people were known to have died from the disease and AIDS was beginning to spread all over the world.
By 1986, numbers suggested that one million Americans were infected with the HIV virus and India saw their first reported case. In 1992, AIDS became the leading cause of death in the United States for individuals between the ages of 24 and 44. In 1999, studies suggested that the population in west equatorial Africa developed a mutated form of the HIV virus. From 1981 to 2006, AIDS killed over 25 million people worldwide.
Compiled by Shem Mugisha