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The First: Stories of Inventions and their Consequences

Bowery Boys Media

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From the automobile to the rocket ship, from chewing gum to the TV dinner, from the first face in a photograph to the first voice on the telephone, the world has been forever changed by impossible technologies and startling ideas. But these invention...Show More
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25:21 | Jan 3rd, 2018

Apartment living is something we take for granted today, the option for those who can't afford or don't desire a private home. But how did this type of living situation become popular in the United States? In mid-19th century New York, people lived i...Show More

34:21 | Dec 21st, 2017

In 1900, there were about 8,000 registered automobiles in the United States. They were a genuine novelty. Those that attempted to go on 'road trips' met with a frustrating reality -- there were no drivable roads, no unified road maps, no nation-wide ...Show More

28:51 | Dec 7th, 2017

That string of multi-colored Christmas lights wrapped around your tree (or your house) is far more influential to American history than you might think.  The first electric Christmas lights debuted in 1882, shortly after the invention of the incandes...Show More

31:30 | Oct 6th, 2017

How much do you know about George Washington Carver, the man born into slavery who became America’s most famous botanist in the first half of the 20th century? He didn’t discover the peanut, a legume commonplace in the human diet for thousands of yea...Show More

30:16 | Sep 21st, 2017

“Over the river and through the woods” into the history of early American cuisine. The first published European cookbooks in the world weren’t meant to enshrine ideal meals but rather to inform a woman of her place in the household with titles like T...Show More

40:06 | Aug 25th, 2017

Benjamin Franklin was the most famous American in the world by the time of the Revolutionary War, known as a writer, inventor and philosopher. But as an old man, he would earn another title -- rebel. By the time of the Boston Massacre, Dr. Franklin w...Show More

30:30 | Aug 11th, 2017

How much do you know about one of the most famous scientific experiments in American history? In 1752 Benjamin Franklin and his son William performed a dangerous act of experimentation, conjuring one of nature's most lethal powers from the air itself...Show More

34:59 | Jul 28th, 2017

Benjamin Franklin did more in his first forty years than most people do in an entire lifetime. Had he not played a pivotal role in the creation of the United States of America, he still would have been considered an icon in the fields of publishing, ...Show More

30:28 | Jun 20th, 2017

There is something very, very bizarre about a can of soda.  How did this sugary, bubbly beverage – dark brown, or neon orange, or grape, or whatever color Mountain Dew is – how did THIS become such an influential force in American culture?  This is t...Show More

23:33 | Jun 1st, 2017

The Black Crook is considered the first-ever Broadway musical, a dizzying, epic-length extravaganza of ballerinas, mechanical sets, lavish costumes and a storyline about the Devil straight out of a twisted hallucination. The show took New York by sto...Show More

23:58 | May 19th, 2017

The art of tattooing is as old as written language but it would require the contributions of a few 19th century New York tattoo artists -- and a young inventor with no tattoos whatsoever -- to take this ancient art to the next level. This is the stor...Show More

10:58 | May 5th, 2017

Imagine if we could hear the voices of Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria or Frederick Douglass? Believe it or not, somebody was making audio recordings as far back as the 1850s. This is the story of the first audio recordings ever made and the oldest s...Show More

25:57 | Apr 21st, 2017

Of the tens of thousands of U.S. patents granted in the 19th century, only a small fraction were held by women. One of those women -- Josephine Cochrane -- would change the world by solving a simple household problem. While throwing lavish dinner par...Show More

28:55 | Mar 26th, 2017

The Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla is known as one of the fathers of electricity, the curious genius behind alternating current (AC), the victor in the so-called War of the Currents. But in this episode of The First, starting in the year 1893, Tesla b...Show More

28:59 | Mar 13th, 2017

This year marks the end to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and, with it, the end of the traditional American circus. Once at the core of the American circus was the performing elephant. Today we understand that such captivity is no place fo...Show More

33:37 | Feb 24th, 2017

Robots conjure up thoughts of distant technological landscapes and even apocalyptic scenarios, but the truth is, robots are a very old creation, tracing back to the ancient world.  We can thank science fiction writers for inventing new and serious id...Show More

30:30 | Feb 10th, 2017

In 1907, the professional swimmer Annette Kellerman was arrested on a Massachusetts beach for wearing a revealing bathing suit -- a skin-tight black ensemble which covered most of her body.  Less than forty years later, in 1946, the owner of a Parisi...Show More

27:48 | Jan 27th, 2017

The harnessing of electricity by the great inventors of the Gilded Age introduced the world to the miracle of light at all hours of the day. But exposure to electricity's raw power was dangerous to man and a few thought this useful in the employment ...Show More

30:42 | Jan 13th, 2017

This is the story of the first vaccine, perhaps one of the greatest inventions in modern human history. Starring -- a country doctor with a love of birds, a milkmaid with translucent skin, an eight-year-old boy with no idea what he's in for and a won...Show More

28:06 | Dec 16th, 2016

The Pledge of Allegiance feels like an American tradition that traces itself back to the Founding Fathers, but, in fact, it's turning 125 years old in 2017. This is the story of the invention of the Pledge, a set of words that have come to embody the...Show More

27:50 | Dec 2nd, 2016

You may know the story of Alexander Graham Bell and his world famous invention. You may know that Bell made the very first phone call. But do you know the story of the man who ANSWERED that call? His name was Thomas Augustus Watson. He met Bell when ...Show More

28:01 | Nov 18th, 2016

American eating habits were transformed in the early 20th century with innovations in freezing and refrigeration, allowing all kinds of foods to be shipped across the country and stored for long periods of time.  But it would actually be the televisi...Show More

32:15 | Nov 4th, 2016

Dorothy Catherine Draper is a truly forgotten figure in American history. She was the first woman to ever sit for a photograph -- a daguerrotype, actually, in the year 1840, upon the rooftop of the school which would become New York University..  The...Show More

47:02 | Oct 28th, 2016

01: The first Ferris Wheel was invented to become America’s Eiffel Tower, making its grand debut at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The wheel’s inventor George Washington Gale Ferris was a clever and optimistic soul; he did everything in his power ...Show More

05:31 | Oct 11th, 2016

A preview of The First, a new podcast series from Greg Young of the Bowery Boys: New York City History, examining the birth of inventions and the people whose lives were immediately affected.    thefirstpodcast.com