When Famous Beats First
Disney's First Cartoon Star
At a glance, anyone might mistake him for Mickey Mouse. But something about those ears just doesn't look right.
That's because those lobes belong to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney's predecessor to the beloved Mickey. Disney created the character in 1927 while working for Universal studios. The cartoon was a hit, but Universal kept the rights to Oswald when Disney left after a business disagreement.
The Disney company finally reacquired the rights to the lucky bunny from Universal in February of this year. -Lindsey Galloway
The First "Superman"
From his first appearance, boldly stopping a car by lifting it off the ground on the cover of Action Comics #1 in 1938, Superman, as created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, was clearly a force to be reckoned with.
But the comic-book creators weren't the first to dream of the superior man. Inspired by leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Abraham Lincoln, some 19th-century German philosophers had considered the idea. "I teach you the Superman," Friedrich Nietzsche (above) wrote in Thus Spake Zarathustra in 1883. "Man is something to be surpassed." -Kenneth Terrell
First Arcade Vidio Game
Pong revolutionized arcades with its addictive table-tennis action, but it wasn't the first attempt to turn that sport into a video game. In 1967, Ralph Baer (below) and some of his colleagues made a virtual tennis game that could be played on a TV set. He packaged the game for sale as the Odyssey home video game console in 1972, but families weren't ready to plunk down money for that device.
They were, however, ready to drop a quarter on a similar game at the arcade. That's the key innovation of Nolan Bushnell's Pong, which debuted in a California bar in 1972.-L.G. and K.T.
The First Automobile
Sure, that Model T that Henry Ford built in 1908 was one memorable ride. But, it wasn't Ford's first car: He built that in 1896. And Karl Benz, father of the company that became Mercedes-Benz, in Germany, still beat him to the punch by more than a decade. The first test drives of Benz's gas-powered, three-wheeled Motorwagen (right) happened in 1885. And while we're at it, Ford didn't invent the assembly line, either. That credit goes to another automobile pioneer, Ransom Eli Olds of the Oldsmobile company. -K.T.
This story appears in the August 14, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.