Pittsburgh 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. (It is currently under consideration for demolition.)
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. 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 & 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. 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 the newest replacement, which opened in the Spring of 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 Stickler'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 Railroad Safety Appliance Act of 1893 made air brakes compulsory on all American trains.
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Updated March 3, 2002