The First Photograph (1826)
Using a unique process known as heliography, Niépce set his camera to an eight-hour exposure over a pewter plate coated with asphalt. He then wiped away the areas of the asphalt not hardened by sunlight to reveal a primitive photograph.Joseph Nicéphore Niépce/Wikimedia Commons
The First African-American To Play Major League Baseball (1884)
What's more, five years before Walker's debut, a man named William Edward White played exactly one game for the Providence Grays, perhaps making him the first African-American to play in the major leagues. However, with very spotty historical records suggesting that White was perhaps the son of a white planter and a mixed race mother, White's claim to be first remains significantly contested.National Baseball Hall of Fame/Wikimedia Commons
The First Text Message (1992)
By 2000, each American was still only sending about 35 text messages per month. And it wouldn't be until 2007 that texting would surpass calling in popularity across the U.S.Neil Papworth
The First Color Photograph (1861)
That year, Thomas Sutton and James Clerk Maxwell collaborated on what's now widely accepted to be the world's first color photograph (pictured), depicting a classic Scottish tartan ribbon of red, white, and green.
They created the image by photographing the same ribbon three times with three different filters (red, green, and blue-violet), then superimposing the three together, in a process whose basic three-color method underscores all color imaging to this day.James Clerk Maxwell/Wikimedia Commons
The First Cell Phone (1973)
But most of the world wouldn't become aware of what Cooper and his team had done until much later. In the words of The Atlantic, "it would take another decade for the DynaTAC to reach consumers and two more decades for cell phones to overtake land lines in worldwide usage."Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The Webby Awards
The First Selfie (1839)
Without the luxury of being able to simply push a button for immediate results, Cornelius had to remove the camera's lens cap, run into frame, and hold his pose for a full minute in order to come away with this image.Robert Cornelius/Library of Congress
The First Email (1971)
Just don't ask him what that historic first email said. "The test messages were entirely forgettable," he later told The New York Times, "and I have, therefore, forgotten them."
MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images
The First Transatlantic Flight (1919)
Eight years before Lindbergh's flight, British aviators John Alcock (on ground) and Arthur Brown (in plane) made the first transatlantic flight, taking off from St. John's, Newfoundland on June 14, 1919 and landing in Clifton, Ireland the following day.Wikimedia Commons
The First Vending Machine (Circa First Century A.D.)
The purpose of Hero's machine? To distribute controlled amounts of holy water at temples, because people had been taking more holy water than they'd been paying for.Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons
The First Digital Still Camera (1975)
While the exact date is all but impossible to pin down, reports generally indicate that digital wouldn't overtake film for another quarter century.Kodak via burnick/Flickr
The First African-American Governor Of A U.S. State (1872)
Following a career as a Louisiana state senator and then lieutenant governor, Pinchback assumed office as acting governor while Governor Henry Clay Warmoth battled impeachment charges for election tampering.
There wouldn't be another African-American governor in the U.S. until 1990.Library of Congress
The First Internet System (1969)
Launched as a U.S. Department of Defense project in 1969, ARPANET was of course rudimentary by today's standards but could indeed link computer networks across the country to share data and transmit messages, including emails...
Pictured: A chart of the computer networks linked by ARPANET in 1973.ARPANET/Wikimedia Commons
The First Female U.S. Presidential Candidate (1872)
Although her candidacy was marked by controversy — including an arrest days before the election for publishing an "obscene" newspaper report on the adultery of prominent minister Henry Ward Beecher — Woodhull had nevertheless made history.
Only three other women would run for president over the next 80 years.Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, Historical Photographs and Special Visual Collections Department, Fine Arts Library via Wikimedia Commons
The First Automobile (1808)
The vehicle (patent reproduction pictured), however, used hydrogen and oxygen for power, not gasoline, and was not commercially successful. Even still, German inventor Siegfried Marcus built a vehicle with an internal combustion engine that was powered by gasoline in 1864, well before Benz and all that followed.François Isaac de Rivaz/Wikimedia Commons
The First Domain Name Registered (1985)
The online presence of a now defunct, Massachusetts-based computer manufacturer (early merchandise pictured), it was in fact the only registered domain for another six weeks. Over the next few years, more and more technology companies would register their own domains, bringing the total still only to mere dozens.Marcin Wichary/Flickr
The First American Casualties Of The Vietnam War (1959)
U.S. Army Maj. Dale Buis (right) and Master Sgt. Chester Ovnand (left) died in an ambush near Saigon on July 8, 1959.
TIME magazine gave the incident just three paragraphs, with the author later saying, "It was a minor incident in a faraway place. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that these two guys would be the first in a memorial to 50,000-some others."U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden/U.S. Army via Wikimedia Commons
The First HIV Cases (Circa 1884-1924)
It wouldn't be until the 1950s and 1960s that the first Westerners contracted documented cases, and it wouldn't be until the 1980s that HIV and AIDS became a worldwide health concern.Henry Morton Stanley/Wikimedia Commons
The First Hologram (1963)
The train pictured here, created in April 1964, represents some of their earliest efforts in this far-ahead-of-its-time field.
As for how exactly they created their holograms, well, it's a little bit complicated.University of Michigan
The First U.S. Congresswoman (1916)
As a pacifist and a women's rights advocate, Rankin hit the ground running in the House of Representatives as a vocal opponent of U.S. involvement in World War I in 1917 and a vocal proponent of granting women the unrestricted right to vote -- which they of course didn't even have when Rankin was elected and wouldn't have until 1920.Library of Congress
The First Artificial Refrigeration (1748)
Cullen was able to boil diethyl ether in a way that absorbed heat from a given space to cool it down so much that he could even create ice. However, the process wasn't quite practical enough to bring to market and thus the attention of the world. University of Glasgow/Wikimedia Commons
The First Personal Computer (1957)
Completed in 1957, the IBM Auto-Point Computer is that model. Used primarily by military and government entities for mass data calculations, the computer sold for the equivalent of about $470,000 today.IBM
The First Female Governor Of A U.S. State (1925)
Over the next half century, only three other female governors would follow in Ross' footsteps.Library of Congress
The First All-Electronic Television (1927-1929)
Now, the history of the television's invention is a complicated, contentious tale filled with many competing inventors and the many historians who would go on to claim that one pioneer deserved more credit than another. However, Farnsworth's developments of 1927 through 1929 are widely recognized as the critical turning point.
By 1950, America's 150 million people still only owned between 5 and 10 million television sets.Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress
The First Video Game Console (1972)
With no sound and no color, it was positively primitive by today's standards, but nevertheless retailed for the modern equivalent of more than $550.
Among its 28 games were Hockey, Roulette, the Old West-themed Shootout!, and Table Tennis, a ping pong game that would go on to inspire Atari's far more widely-known Pong, which debuted for home use three years later.Wikimedia Commons
The First African-American U.S. Congressman (1870)
Over the next 97 years, the United States would see just one other African-American senator.Library of Congress
The First Female U.S. Medical School Graduate (1849)
When she was accepted to New York's Geneva Medical College in 1847 (after the school's 150 male students unanimously voted to accept her, reportedly believing that the vote was a joke), she faced a chilly reaction.
One classmate remembered of her first day, "A hush fell on the class as if each member had been stricken with paralysis. A death-like stillness prevailed during the lecture, and only the newly arrived student took notes."
Despite such adversity, Blackwell graduated in January 1849.Joseph Stanley Kozlowski/Upstate Medical University via Wikimedia Commons
The First Magazine (1731)
Covering everything from current affairs to economics to poetry, the magazine featured contributions from luminaries like Jonathan Swift and Samuel Johnson.
Pictured: The cover of the very first issue of The Gentlemen's Magazine, published in January 1731.Wikimedia Commons
The First A.T.M. (1967)
However, these machines wouldn't become legitimately commonplace until at least 1990, when the world still only had no more than five percent of the A.T.M.s it has today, according to the Credit Union Times. Wikimedia
The First Toilet Paper (Circa Sixth Century A.D.)
However, most Westerners would proceed to use everything from hay, book pages, lace, wool, or their own hands for centuries, until 1857, when American inventor Joseph Gayetty commercialized the product as we more or less know it today.Terry Johnston/Flickr
Charles Lindbergh was rather handsome. Strikingly tall, bedecked in classic leather pilot's cap and goggles, "Lucky Lindy" could sit in the cockpit of the Spirit of St. Louis and look every bit the part of the romantic hero of aviation's so-called golden age.
When The New York Times ran its front-page story on the completion of Lindbergh's historic transatlantic flight on May 21, 1927, the newspaper described his landing with breathless grandiloquence:
"Those first to arrive at the plane had a picture that will live in their minds for the rest of their lives. His cap off, his famous locks falling in disarray around his eyes, 'Lucky Lindy' sat peering out over the rim of the little cockpit of his machine."
Yet nowhere did The New York Times mention — nor did many of those who idolized Lindy in the coming decades seem to realize — that Charles Lindbergh was not the first pilot to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, nor by some technicality the second or third, but instead the 19th.
Almost exactly eight years before Lindbergh's flight, British pilots John Alcock and Arthur Brown completed what was truly the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic, from Newfoundland to Ireland.
Lindbergh's distinction was that he was the first pilot to make the flight solo -- a qualifier some of us care to remember today, but one many of us surely don't.
And it is an important qualifier, but not important enough to explain why, today, no one (at least in America) remembers Alcock and Brown while everyone remembers Lindbergh.
Of course, some of the biggest reasons that we remember Lindbergh and not Alcock and Brown are that Lindbergh was handsome, that he looked great in flight gear, that he was an American man who'd quickly risen from underdog obscurity to fly from New York to Paris (not Newfoundland to Ireland) at the height of American Jazz Age affluence and glamour — that his story, not necessarily his actual accomplishment, was a better one.
And thus so many of us seem to remember Lindbergh's transatlantic flight as the first. Even National Geographic, writing as recently as 2013, made that very error over the course of an entire article before appending a correction at a later time.
All of this tells us something about how our collective memory, if not the history books themselves, choose to mark history's most famous "firsts." Time and again, we'll go with the better story regardless of its accuracy.
Sometimes, this means that some of history's most famous firsts actually occurred long before we realize they did. It may also mean that a first was so far ahead of its time that we all but refuse to believe that it could have occurred so long ago.
This is how we end up remembering Jackie Robinson as the first African-American in Major League Baseball — and not the man who played just 42 unremarkable games in one season for a smaller team all the way back in 1884.
Or how we find it nearly impossible to process the fact (if we've ever even heard it) that color photography was invented in 1861 — 78 years before The Wizard of Oz and some 90 years before our imagination of history itself stopped existing solely in black and white.
See more famous firsts that happened long before you thought they did in the gallery above.
Next, discover six famous inventors who don't actually deserve credit for their most noteworthy invention. Then, read up on eight overlooked women inventors responsible for some of history's greatest innovations — whether most of us realize it or not.