steelerslogoWith their victory Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first NFL franchise to win 6 Super Bowls. But the Pittsburgh area is no stranger to being first. In fact, the city is home to a number of firsts, including:

First pro football game — Paying athletes outrageous sums of money is nothing new. In 1892, the Allegheny Athletic Association paid William “Pudge” Heffelfinger $500 to play for their team in a single football game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Heffelfinger is the first person to be paid to play football, which makes the Allegheny-Pittsburgh game the first professional football game. Not to be outdone, several Pittsburgh-area teams began paying some of their players culminating with the Latrobe Athletic Association becoming the first team to pay all of its players for a full season.

The first :-) — Like many of his colleagues, Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor Scott E. Fahlman used electronic bulletin boards, an early version of chat rooms, to communicate with others in his department. While most of the exchanges were of a serious nature, there were jokes as well. This was an issue for some because if a sarcastic remark was made some people didn’t get the joke. The first :-) was used Sept. 19, 1982. You can see the original message here.

The first Big Mac — In 1967, a Uniontown, Pa., McDonald’s franchise owner, Jim Delligatti, created the Big Mac because he was losing customers to a competing Big Boy’s restaurant, which offered a burger with two beef patties and Thousand Island dressing. A year later, the burger was on the menu at McDonald’s restaurants across the nation.

The first all-minority starting lineup — The Pittsburgh Pirates were the first Major League baseball team to start nine minorities. In a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 1, 1971, the Pirates started five African Americans, two Panamanians, one Puerto Rican, and one Cuban. The Pirates won the game 10-7 and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in seven games to win the World Series.

The first polio vaccine — Working for the University of Pittsburgh, Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio, a disease that had reached epidemic proportions by the time Salk created the vaccine in 1952. Pittsburgh school children at Arsenal Elementary School were among the first to receive the vaccine.

The first commercial radio broadcast — On Nov. 2, 1920, residents in Western Pennsylvania heard the first commercial radio broadcast when station KDKA announced the results for the Harding-Cox presidential election. Prior to that broadcast, radio was dominated by ham radio operators and was primarily a one-to-one communication tool.

The first banana split — In 1904, pharmacist David Strickler created the banana split at Tassell Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pa. This is disputed by the folks in Wilmington, Ohio, but most experts agree Strickler was the first.

The first NFL cheerleaders — In 1961, the Pittsburgh Steelers had yet to establish a championship franchise and were known more for their losing. To get people in the seats, the team decided to bring in cheerleaders in an effort to make the games more appealing. Interestingly, the Steelerettes were disbanded after the 1970 season, and the Steelers are one of the few professional sports teams that does not have cheerleaders.

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