What is usually called the "Christian" or "Gregorian" calendar was introduced, in substantially its present form, in 45BC — some 80 years before the birth of Christianity, and over 1700 years before the Gregorian reform; which in any case was little more than a minor tweak in the frequency of leap-years (decreasing the cumulative error in the calendar from about 1 day in 128 years, to about 1 day in 4000), whereas the Julian reform which gave us the present shape of the calendar was an actual major reform.
Similar to the above, while the the seven-day week gets a Just So Story in The Bible, it actually predates Judaism. It comes from early pagan religions, and each day is devoted to one of the seven celestial objects visible with the naked eye - the sun, moon, and five planets. This is most evident in the English names for the first twonote "first two" in the Judeo-Christian tradition; the international standard ISO 8601 prescribes that the week begins with Monday — Sunday and Mo(o)nday (the others come from the names of pagan gods - Tuesday is "Tyr's Day", Wednesday is "Woden's Day", etc.). Many scholars think that the reason Christians moved their sabbath from Saturday to Sunday is that most Romans were sun-worshipers, and thus worshiped on Sun Day, and Constantine encouraged Christians to worship on the same day as their neighbors to seem less like outsiders.
Although the modern popular conception of the kilt associates it exclusively with Scotland (where it is even Newer Than They Think), the kilt is actually one of the oldest known garments, predated only by the loincloth. Depictions of kilts have been found in early Dynastic Egypt (roughly 3000 BC), where they were one of the most commonly worn garments among the upper classes (slaves and laborers wore loincloths). They were typically short and made from linen. Wool kilts were the most common male garment in Minoan-period Crete (2700-1450 BC), and were adopted by Mycenaean Greece (1600-1100 BC).
The standard uniform of the historical Greek military's Evzone troops was a white kilt known as a fustanella. The elite ceremonial Proedriki Froura (Presidential Guard) unit still wears the traditional fustanella as part of their uniform.
These days IBM might well be thought of as a computer hardware company, but it actually predates electronics by a long way. The name dates from 1924 (it had been CTR, or Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation before), while the company itself dates from 1911, and was an amalgamation of several existing companies, which date to 1885, 1900 and 1901. Early products included cheese cutters, meat choppers, and scales.
This is actually the case with many modern big companies specializing in modern hardware and software. For example, Nokia is one of the biggest producers of cellphones in the world. It was founded in 1865. Or how about Nintendo? Surely the company that gave us the NES and Mario cannot be all that old? Perhaps from the 1970s? Nope, founded in 1889 as a card game company.
Most people assume that the Zombie Apocalypse started with George Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1968, but it can be directly traced to Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, published in 1954. Romero himself admitted that Night of the Living Dead was just a rip-off of Matheson's book.
Before that, the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna/Ishtar was threatening to cause Zombie Apocalypses when she didn't get her way in ancient myths.
Writing a prequel to tell the story of the father of the main character of a previous work? François Rabelais did this 500 years before George Lucas with Gargantua, the prequel to Pantagruel.
Likewise, remakes, reboots, sequels and prequels were not invented by Hollywood. It was common practice in ancient Greece and in 17th century France among classical authors to base their plays on well-known episodes of the Trojan war or to write their own version of the existing work of a more ancient author. Moliere's The Miser, for instance, is a remake of a latin play, Aulularia, by Plautus, with some dialogues lifted almost verbatim! The public wanted to see how a new author was going to use the subject material; it didn't matter that the later was not new.
The basic idea of a Macekre predates Carl Macek by over a century— the earliest translators of Jules Verne into English were infamous for their numerous misinterpretations of the text when they didn't rewrite, add, or delete entire scenes, and often changed the names and nationalities of characters willy-nilly. The translations were so bad that they ruined Verne's reputation as a writer in the English-speaking world for a century, much like how anime has a bad reputation thanks to people like 4Kids Entertainment. See here for more information.
Mythology and Folklore
Though abduction of humans by aliens wasn't commonly reported before the 1960s, people would tell tales of having been abducted by witches on broomsticks (Older Than Print) or spirits/ghosts/demons (Older Than Feudalism). Alien abductions and sightings bear uncanny resemblance to the fairy encounters of the old myths. The phenomenon of sleep paralysis only goes halfway in explaining the experiences, but clearly something in the human brain has a habit of creating illusions of otherworldly encounters.
And then there is Agobard of Lyon, who wrote about the peasants' belief in flying ships coming from "Magonia, the land beyond the clouds inhabited by wizards" and how they ruined crops and kidnapped people only to return them to the same place after some time (maybe even years). All this right in Carolingian times (roughly 800AD to 1000AD).
The funniest (and mostunexpected) part is that Agobard is actually a skeptic, and his account of the capture of four supposed passengers from one of these airships is just a long reflection on how stupid people have to be to believe something like that. His text wouldn't look out of place as a troll thread in a modern UFO board in the internet.
Crop circles are often considered a recent occurrence, and in fact many people assume they're all a hoax because two Englishmen admitted to faking a ton of them in the nineties. However, reports of crop circle-like phenomena go back at least to the Mowing Devil in 1678.
Tiamat as a dragon is both Older Than They ThinkandNewer Than They Think. In the original mythology, she wasn't a dragon, but Dungeons & Dragons, contrary to common citation, didn't invent this misconception, although it did popularize it greatly. It actually owes to a misinterpretation of the Enuma Elish — which prominently identifies her as the mother of dragons and sea serpents — combined with conflation with the related Ugaritic deity Lotan, who was a dragon.
The Masamune is a classic Public Domain Artifact, referring not just to a single sword but to the collected works of a famous swordsmith of that name who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries, although legends surrounding them have sprung up since thennote most famously as "holy" blades to contrast with the "demonic" Muramasa; these legends do often refer as if to a single blade rather than a set, at least in english translations. Nevertheless, people on This Very Wiki have mistaken it for an original creation associated solely with Final Fantasy VII.
The Surgeon's Photograph, taken in 1934, is widely cited as the origin of the Loch Ness Monster myth, when in fact the Loch Ness Monster stories started in the 6th century C. E..
The St. Columba story is mentioned in almost every retelling of the Loch Ness legend.
The name "Wendy" is commonly attributed to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and it's true he popularized the name, but the name was recorded as being used in the US as early as the 1820s, about twenty years after Barrie was born.
"Wendy" has an alternative etymology. "Gw-" names are common in Welsh; a typical opening prefix is Gwen-. Gwenda is perectly possible, and King Arthur's wife in Welsh was Gwyneddfa" - Guinevere. Gwendolyn ''is a girls' name that can be shortened to something sounding like "Gwendy", or sometimes "wendy".
Barrie got it from his friend Margaret Henley. About three at the time (she died at five), she called him "my fwendy" and then "my wendy". Since Barrie popularized it, it's also become a nickname for "Melinda". Small children are responsible for a lot of nicknames, eh.
The idea of "glasnost", namely partially opening up a system to protect its ultimate survival, predates Gorbachev by over a century.
Thanks to a certain John O'Sullivan (the man who also gave us the phrase "manifest destiny"), a lot of people think the United States was a "great experiment in liberty." They forget that the founding fathers were looking to the concepts of democracy/representative democracy found in the Greek poleis and the Roman Republic (which dates back to 509 BC). There's a reason why so much architecture in Washington DC mimics Greco-Roman style.
A form of representative democracy has been practiced by the Iroquois Confederation since the sixteenth century, while a similar system (the Alting) also existed in Iceland since 930 — though in their original forms, they may have been closer to oligarchies, as they were councils of warrior-elites.
A representational democracy, where parliamentary representatives were elected on local level (according to one man - one vote rule) and the chief of state was elected by common vote was used between 1573-1795 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (with the caveat that only nobility had the right to vote, but since Polish nobility was so ridiculously numerous it still made a percentage of potential voters higher than in the First French Republic).
When the state of Arizona passed a tougher immigration law in 2010, the move was seen as largely controversial. One oft-stated reason was how unprecedented it was and so un-American in general. In actuality, most of Arizona's law mirrors the federal immigration law that had been on the books for 70 years.
To elaborate: Most of the Arizona law was right out of the federal requirements for immigration. However, it was not quite identical. One of the main things that made the more intelligent critics of the AZ law go bananas was the requirement that state law-enforcement officials ask for documentation when stopping/arresting suspects. It makes a certain amount of sense to have federal law enforcement to do this, since federal law typically involves things moving across state lines and international borders (like drug smuggling) or things harmful to federal interests (like attacking federal officials and facilities), which often involve undocumented foreigners (think cartels and terrorists). Moreover, federal trials are expensive while deportation proceedings are not, so the US Attorney needs to know this to save Uncle Sam some money. On the other hand, state law enforcement is charged with day-to-day law and order, so it's no more likely that the offender is undocumented than not, meaning that the Arizona law had to include a bit that amounted to permission to engage in racial profiling (otherwise, you'd have to ask everyone to show their papers). Moreover, deportation hearings are federal matters, so while the state might save money, it shifts the burden for processing those undocumented the state does catch—which would be a lot more, since you're working off traffic violations and petty theft rather than smuggling—to the federal government. This, combined with the fact that immigration law is clearly assigned to the federal government by the Constitution, combines to get at the feds' main complaint about the bill: it's a state usurpation of federal power.
Many people thought that the accusations that Barack Obama was born in Kenya/Indonesia was the first time a US president accused of being not constitutionally eligible on the grounds of not being a "natural-born citizen". However, the first president with that dubious honor is actually Chester A Arthur who was rumored to have been born in a certain British colony we now call Canada.
The beginning of Barack Obama's "Forward"-themed 2012 presidential campaign was accused by detractors of being based in Socialism (the word "forward" allegedly having Socialist leanings), coupled with an appearance in Milwaukee's Master Lock factory in front of a blue flag reading "Wisconsin 1848" supposedly represented a labor union, made controversial by labor unions falling out of favor in U.S. conservative circles - "Forward" has been Wisconsin's official motto since 1851, and while the state flag was edited to include "Wisconsin" and "1848" for clarity in 1979, the coat of arms as a central part of the representation of Wisconsin dates back to 1881, with 1848 as the year Wisconsin became a state.
The American Civil War wasn't the first time in the United States' history that the country faced a serious threat of secession. About fifty years before that, during the War of 1812, there was serious talk within the Federalist Party of New England seceding from the Union. What, you thought the "Yankees" were always the ones against secession?
Certain signature moves in Professional Wrestling are attributed to current wrestlers who use them but in fact were actually around long before said wrestler started using them as a signature.
The Bella Twins have a gimmick of wearing the same gear and switching with each other during matches to win. Kurt Angle did this twice, using his brother Eric first at Survivor Series 2000 and again on Smackdown in 2003. Though Kurt and Eric weren't twins so it was used mostly as a distraction so Kurt could quickly sneak out a win.
The Killer Bees (Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair) did that in the 80s with masks. The rule of "in a tag match, the legal man must make the pin" was enforced far more then.
The gravelly voice used by Rowlf the Dog of The Muppet Show has been described as a Tom Waits impression — although Waits was only 13 when Rowlf debuted.
Many people believe that theistic evolution was created after Darwin's On the Origin of Species proposed the concept of Evolution as a way to fit Genesis with current science. Few know that the Roman Catholic Church accepted a concept very close to theistic evolution nearly 500 years before On the Origin of Species was ever published. St. Thomas Aquinas likened God's creation to a farmer who planted a seed and observed the plant growing and changing over time. The works that featured this concept are actually the reason he is honored as a saint.
The concept of "X" as an abbreviation for Christ (e.g. "Xmas") is Older Than Feudalism, dating from the Roman persecutions of early Christians who'd use the Greek letter χ (chi), the first letter of Christ written in Greek, as code.
The traditional concern about Christmas becoming too "commercialized" is as old as the modern conception of the holiday itself. For instance, Harriet Beecher Stowe complained about as much in her 1850 book, The First Christmas in New England.
Christianity in Korea dates back long before the Americans arrived in the 1950s - in fact, it goes back to the Joseon Dynasty during the early 1600s, when the writings of a Jesuit missionary visiting China made their way to Korea.
Similarly, Chritianity in India did not come with the British Empire. Tradition says it was brought by Thomas—yes, the very apostle who wanted to see the scars of Christ.
Despite generally being thought of as a "modern" concept, universal religious toleration has a surprisingly long history. The revered Mughal emperor Akbar, for example, had views on religion that would seem unusually open-minded in some quarters today, let alone in 16th-century India. Among other things, he openly defied the idea of "one true religion" in his philosophical writings, and he went to great lengths to staff his court with scholars of practically every known faith, frequently encouraging philosophical discourse between them so that they could find common ground.
"Now it has become clear to me that it cannot be wisdom to assert the truth of one faith over another. ... In our troubled world, so full of contradictions, the wise person makes justice his guide, and learns from all."
The concept of evolution is very old. Aristotle wrote down theories of natural selection. Charles Darwin's own grandfather also worked on evolution theories. Darwin was the first who clearly explained all the important elements of evolution, as well as a workable concept.
Though even he didn't complete the process, because he assumed that the popular notions of genetics of his day were right. If traits blended as was commonly assumed, evolution as he described it would not work. Alas, though Mendel published at the same time, his work was not rediscovered and integrated to produce the feasible neo-Darwinism until half a century later. Darwinism was on its last legs before that discovery, because it was too obvious to too many scientists that it did not and could not work.
The word "evolution" does not appear in On the Origin of Species, and the word "evolve" only appears once at the very end ("[E]ndless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."). Darwin avoided the word because, at the time, the word "evolution" referred to Lamarck's ideas. Darwin preferred the phrase "descent with modification".
Medieval science, especially at the University in Paris, was a lot more advanced than it gets credit for. Jean Buridan had a theory of inertia similar to Newton's (though with circular motion) by the mid-1300s, and unlike Newton said that God had no need to interfere in celestial motions. Nicole Oresme had theories of, among other things, probability, the subconscious, music, gravity, and, supposedly, evolution. He also had the same proof of uniformly varied motion as Galileo about 250 years before Galileo did, and used "Cartesian" notation about 300 years before Descartes — and used it to invent analytical geometry, too. What ruined it? The Hundred Years War in France made the Italian schools, where Aristotle's physics had never been questioned, dominant.
Atomic theory goes back at least to the 4th century BC with the Greek philosophers Leucippus of Miletus and Democritus of Abdera.
The four classical elements — Fire, Earth, Water, and Air — correspond pretty well to the four major states of matter of modern physics — Plasma, Solid, Liquid, and Gas, respectively.
Quantum physics is often treated as the next big thing, while it actually dates back to the nineteenth century. Justified as we still have a rather poor understanding of it and scientist believing in a major breakthrough being 'just around the corner' since the mid-eighties.
Quantization dates back to the 19th century, but almost all of what we know as "quantum mechanics" (quantum states, operators, etc.) is less than a hundred years old. Many important developments are much more recent. For instance, the six quark model dates only to 1973.
Pythagorean Theorem was an already known fact long before Pythagoras' time.
Not only was the true shape of the Earth known since ancient times, the actual size was known as well (about 25,000 miles), and not due to Columbus. In fact, Columbus' expedition was rejected several times because he had severely underestimated the distance to Asia, and his potential patrons knew it.
The term "decimal" was the name of the base-ten number system for hundreds of years before the invention in the 17th century of the point-fraction notation with which it's most usually associated. Not surprisingly, since "decimal" is actually the adjective form of the Latin noun decem, "ten".
The official term for what's usually known as a "decimal" is actually "decimal fraction". As in, a fraction with the denominator being a power of ten.
The fractional point is itself an example of this trope. Although not introduced to the decimal system until the 17th century, the ancient Babylonians (who had a sexagesimal — base 60 — system which was positional (like the decimal system, unlike the Roman system) and thus used 60 "digit" symbols valued 0 to 59) had a fractional point following which symbols represented 60ths, 3600ths and so on.
The famous story about Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) quickly adding up a series of numbers by matching the first and last one, while apocryphal in and of itself, is supposed to demonstrate his genius - but the method already appears in the Tosafot, a group of commentators on the Talmud who lived four hundred years earlier.
Many people think that eating international cuisine is something that came about in the 1980's. England's first Indian restaurant opened in 1837, the year Victoria ascended the throne. Granted, India wasn't exactly foreign to Britons then...
Likewise, leather bars date to the return of U.S. soldiers in WWII largely on the West Coast taking up residence in biker bars - both masculine types of gay men dating back to time immemorial.
Shopping malls were the product of 50s American suburban consumerism, right? Providence, Rhode Island opened an indoor shopping center called the Westminster Arcade in 1828. Cleveland, Ohio opened its own Arcade in 1890 (here's what it looked like in 1901), and before them indoor markets were built in England and Russia.
It's true. The Brits called them "market halls."
If a shopping mall is a covered area containing a number of stores, there was one in London as early as 1819.
The bazaars or Souqs of the Islamic and Indian empires were shopping malls in all but name and their modern descendants, judging by what goods they sell, are the counterpart of Western malls.
And in Rome before the birth of Christ.
The internet would lead you to believe that the Furry Fandom is some new fad (or something of the 90s), but really, it's actually older than the internet we know of today. The first furry convention was actually held in 1982, but, there were "furries" known back in the 60s, (and a lot of old cartoons from the 20s to the 40s had mostly Funny Animals as characters).
While the United States might be the first country/empire/kingdom to celebrate and proudly admit to being a melting pot, this has been going on since the rise of city-states albiet on a less global scale. The city of Rome itself was founded by runaway slaves and criminals from all over the Italian peninsula and as the Roman Republic and Roman Empire expanded it added Etruscan, Carthaginian, Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Egyptian, and Persian blood to the mix.
Cyrus The Great in the 6th Century BC enthusiastically encouraged multiculturalism throughout the empire he founded, the Achaemenid Persian Empire.
The history of England itself has been described as being constantly shaped by migrations and diversity ever since 1066, whether they were from France and Germany or the later colonial domains of The British Empire. In fact, multiculturalism across Britain could be traced to as far back as Roman times, where it's found that legionaries and citizens of African descent resided on the isles...and stayed, making Black British the oldest minority group predating the Anglo-Saxons.
Supercenter stores (discount department store/supermarket combinations). Although Walmart started opening Supercenters in 1990 (after a false start in 1987), the concept actually dates back to Meijer in 1962 (incidentally, the same year that the first Walmart, Kmart, Target and many competitors thereof opened).
Fast-food drive-through windows are a double example. They are both Older Than They Think in that several chains (including In-N-Out Burger and Jack in the Box) claim to be the first to have them as far back as the 1940s and 1950s. However, they are alsoNewer Than They Think in the sense that the "big" chains such as McDonald's and Burger King did not use them extensively until the 1970s. (In fact, the first McDonald's with a drive-thru window was made entirely out of necessity — it was near a military base, and was installed entirely so that they could serve soldiers who were not allowed to leave their cars while in fatigues.)
All cities in the American West are pretty young and barely go back a century or two, right? Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of the oldest cities in the United States, having been established by Spanish explorers in 1610.
And no inhabited city on the eastern coast of the United States is older than 1607's Jamestown, VA, right? Saint Augustine, FL goes back to 1565.
A couple of examples from the automotive industry:
In the 00's, GMC introduced an Envoy with a sliding roof and remarked on their innovation in print ads. Shortly afterward, Car And Driver pointed out that Studebaker had the same feature on a station wagon in the 60's.
In the mid-80's, government regulations forced auto manufacturers to install a third brake light into their cars. The folks at Chrysler probably had a good laugh since they had used third brake lights on their cars in the 40's. (Although theirs were mounted on the trunklid instead of the rear window.)
If you ask someone when was color photography invented, a typical answer would be something like "I don't know, maybe in the 50's?" The answer would be correct, except that it refers to the wrong century. Color photography was first developed in the 1850's.
Cataphracts were sporting shiny armor waaay before anyone in Europe had the idea and most certainly copied it.
Nevermind that the Byzantines copied these from the Persians in the first place.
In-line skates go back to the late 18th century, predating parallel roller skates. They were revived as "Rollerblades" in the '80s.
Gunpowder was introduced in Europe by the Mongols in the 13th century; the stereotypical Knight in Shining Armor of the 14th-15th centuries actually coexisted with cannons and, near the end of his reign, even with primitive handguns. This makes the trope Fantasy Gun Control in Medieval Fantasy settings look very nonsensical.
There is evidence that neanderthals used glue to fix points to their spears.
Terms and Phrases
Adam from MythBusters is known for popularizing the line "I reject your reality, and substitute my own", even to the point of wearing a T-Shirt reading that (a custom-made gift from a fan in Romania) on the show. However, the line actually comes from the 1985 Richard Moll sci-fi horror movie The Dungeonmaster. This line is the only good thing to come from it.
The standard linguistic joke of spelling "fish" G-H-O-T-I ("gh" as in "rough", "o" as in "women", and "ti" as in "nation") is usually attributed to George Bernard Shaw. While Shaw was interested in spelling reform, this particular joke can be dated back to at least 1855 — the year before Shaw was born.
The phrase "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" has been attributed to everyone and everything from U2 to one of those Murphy's Law books. It's been definitively dated back to Irina Dunn in 1970, while she was a student at the university of Sydney, Australia. It was a paraphrase of an even older phrase, "Man needs religion [or "God"] like a fish needs a bicycle."
The Other Wiki goes into the usual humorously serious detail on how "Your Mom" jokes are older than people think; used, for example, by Shakespeare.
The word "Aryan" to refer to the prehistoric people who spoke Indo-European has been dropped for "Proto-Indo-European." While the work of historical linguists might have had something to do with it, the fact that Those Wacky Nazis are all over the connotations for that word most certainly has a hand as well. The word "Aryan" is very old. It appears in the oldest text in Indic, the Rigveda, the oldest portions of which date from approximately 1500 BC, and in the oldest text in Iranian, the Avesta, dating from around 1000 BC. What is new is applying the word to non-Indo-Iranians, which started in the 19th century.
Bonus fact: "Aryan" and "Iran" come from the same word meaning "noble". The relation is more obvious if you pronounce "aryan" correctly: arr-yahn (nearest IPA for English /ɑɹ.jɑn/)
The phrase "trick out" seems like an example of modern, urban slang. Actually, John Austin used it in The Province of Jurisprudence Determined, first published in 1832, and the phrase is probably much older. It's even used in the modern sense of out "to adorn or decorate in an extravagant or gaudy manner".
There are many, many turns of phrase from This Very Wiki which are Older Than They Think. Lampshade Hanging is chief among these. There was an amusing example on Kangaroo Court where someone assumed the Phoenix Wright localization team were tropers because they used that phrase. And, if this wiki is the context in which you've learned the words "deconstruction", "subversion" or even "trope", it's advisible to look them up in a dictionary before trying to use them elsewhere.
People from Spanish and Portugese-speaking countries often accuse U.S. citizens of calling themselves "American" out of ignorance and/or deliberate arrogance — as if Americans knowingly decided to call themselves that just to spite everyone else in North and South America. What they don't realize is that the demonym "American" has been used to mean "person of European descent living in British America" in the English language since at least the 1640s, as recorded in The English-American: A New Survey of the West Indies by Thomas Gage. That's over a full century before the Declaration of Independence, people.
The United States was the first country established out of European colonies in either North or South America. Considering that (what are now) American citizens had been called Americans for over a century by 1776, and there were no other independent but culturally European countries in the Americas established at the time, "United States of America" is way less presumptuous than detractors claim.
The expression "no go" sounds like some "hip," mid-20th-century urban expression. In fact, its roots are urban - but it was being used on the East Coast as early as 1838! (Read all about it at 'What does "OK" stand for?'.) And for that matter, by the 1840s it was already considered funny to deliberately misspell the word as "know go".
Many people have started to use the term "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" jokingly in reference to recent Geico commercials use of the term. The commercial shows the figure of speech being shown as literal for comedic effet. Most people however, think that the term came from the commercial and have to idea that it actually means anything.
The word misunderestimate has a pedigree that goes back long before the time of George W. Bush.
The word "truthiness", though commonly believed to be a coinage of Stephen Colbert, in fact dates back to 1824, albeit with a slightly different meaning.
Amazing though it may seem to those familiar with the works of Uwe Boll, the Britishism "bollocks" is not an eponym.
The slang term "phat" is often thought to have been created recently, some time in The Nineties. In reality, the term has been in use since at least 1963 and was already being used to describe something desirable back then.
The concept of a backronym is much older than most people think; indeed, the word "backronym" itself is a neologism — the correct, much-longer-established word is "acrostic". As early as the second century A.D., Christians were using the Greek word "ichthys", meaning fish, as an acrostic for "Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter" which translates to "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior".
The term "electric blue" dates back at least as far as 1884 (according to The Other Wiki), and appears in a Sherlock Holmes story ("The Adventure of the Copper Beeches", pub. 1892).
The term "hipster" originated in the early 1940s, referring to those with an interest in jazz. In fact, the term "hippie" is derived from "hipster".
Warren Harding did not invent the Word "Normalcy". He only popularized it.
The term "cold war" was coined in the fourteenth century by Spanish writer Don Juan Manuel, who said "War that is very fierce and very hot ends either with death or peace, whereas a cold war neither brings peace nor confers honor on those who wage it." He was talking about the uneasy peace between Christians and Muslims.
"Paging" someone is far, way far older than the internet. Originally it involved sending a servant (page) to find and bring somebody.
Troll dolls weren't introduced in The Nineties, they were re-introduced. These toys actually date back to 1963.
When Dubreq (makers of the Stylophone) introduced the Super Stylophone circa 1971, it flopped (as could have been predicted, since it lacked both the qualities which made the original such a hit — cheapness and simplicity). So they withdrew it, only to reintroduce it four years later as a "new hi-fi synthesiser" — a description almost hilariously wrong on all three counts, since "hi-fi" is not applicable to non-imitative sound generation, and it was a divider organ, not a synth.
LEGO has had specialized parts and sets devoted to building one particular thing (as opposed to big boxes of random generic bricks) since the early fifties, no matter what that guy in his late twenties who just walked into a toy aisle for the first time in years and thinks They Changed It, Now It Sucks says.
One could think that "war games" in the style of paintball and airsoft are a relatively new invention. In fact, it goes at least as much back as 1909, where they used wax bullets and protective gear not much unlike the modern ones.
Uncyclopedia has a running gag about Kitten Huffing. Ween mentioned inhaling kitties in a song (Marble Tulip Juicy Tree) in 1989!
Also mentioned in a 1996 Father Ted episode; a man was allergic to cats, and inhaled kittens to punish himself for his sins.
The Internet itself is older than most people think. Most people would not have heard of it before the mid-1990s, and thus assume that was roughly the time it came about. The World Wide Web dates from 1991, but it is actually just one of many applications built on top of the actual Internet. Unfortunately, an exact date for the birth of the Internet cannot be given, since it was a continuous development over several decades. Some years which may be considered candidates for this include:
1968, When Arpanet was started
1969, When the first message ever was sent via Arpanet
1974, When the technical core concepts of the Internet were formulated at Stanford University
1981, When the Internet Protocol version 4, which is dominant to this day, was introduced
For that matter, the Internet itself can basically be seen as "Telegraph 2.0" with a visual display.
Based on comments on YouTube on the Max Headroom Incident, you'd think that the idea of trolling on the internet is only about 15 years old and that the internet was invented around 1994 (see above for details). Truth is, it dates back to the late 80s at the very least, but back then it was an initiation process for newbies where someone would ask a question everyone knew the answer to for purpose of weeding out the newbies and only the newbies would answer, it was called "trolling for newbies". Snopes is someone who participated in this early form of trolling. However, the direct ancestor to what's known as trolling today dates back even further, to at least the late 70s, but until the term "trolling" evolved, these people were known as "griefers". Evidence of this behaviour can be found as early as 1981 on Google Groups archives of Usenet.
Except for maybe nuclear proliferation and e-mail spam, any problem that seems to be unique to the modern age has been around since the dawn of civilization. War, famine, pestilence, pornography, right-wing crackpots, left-wing crackpots, bad politicians, pollution, gang fights, corruption, its all been done, repeatedly.
One common crackpot idea is that "The Sixties are to blame for all of modern society's ills". The main one being the drugs subculture; but the Victorians had a far worse drug problem than has ever existed since.
Many of the symbols, rituals and other aspects of Nazi Germany actually dated back from as far as thousands of years before Nazi Germany was even established. Unfortunately, this led to these symbolsbecoming taboo and (at least partially) falling out of use. The most famous example is the swastika, which is actually a major symbol in several cultures, including the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Christianity and until Hitler co-opted it, it didn't in fact have anything to do with racism — though the swastika can "spiral" both clockwise and counterclockwise while the Nazi version only runs counterclockwise, both versions are now associated by many with the Nazis.
Mussolini and Hitler were often openly saying that they imagined their countries as modern versions of, correspondingly, the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which has made elements of both taboo. In Italy, the fasces (an ancient Roman symbol) have been removed from many emblems due to the fascist connotations, and the Roman salute has also suffered a similar fate.
Speaking of the swastika, prior to the rise of Nazism the swastika was used in its "good luck" context in architecture for many buildings and as an emblem in several European armed forces (most notably the inter-war and early WWII Finnish Air Force). These mostly copied the original look of the swastika, while the Nazis made their version deliberately different from the others. Still, the unfortunate connotations with the Nazi regime have made the swastika a banned symbol in Europe (though you can routinely see it in its original form in various Asian countries, where the connotations with the Nazi version aren't as strong).
In the early 20th century, in the US, the swastika was widely used as a good luck sign (alongside the horseshoe, the four-leaf clover and the wishbone) on everything from playing cards to coins to souvenir spoons!
Prior to the rise of Nazism, the US Pledge of Allegiance involved stretching out one's hand towards the flag, similar to the Ave salute. This gesture was dropped by WW2, for obvious reasons.
Graffiti is pretty damn old — Pompeii (yes, that one) was famous for it. Quite a bit of it involves sex, and is downright hilarious.NSFW.
In the show The Naked Archaeologist, host Simcha Jacobovici once presented evidence that non-pictorial written language was first invented by Jewish rebels in Egypt as a code their enemies couldn't read, and part of his evidence was graffiti in an ancient Egyptian work camp reading "El [God] save me." So our alphabet could have been created specifically for graffiti.
The theory that the alphabet was invented by the Jews in Egypt is also rather old - there is a 1903 Russian book claiming that.
Celebrity endorsement of products was common for popular Roman gladiators. The writers of the Gladiator movie considered including that in the script, but thought it wouldn't fly.
Someone on the webite The Escapist's forums declared that Charlie Brooker was ripping off Yahtzee's act. While they may not have known that Brooker had been doing the snarky-British-slating thing for a while, or that Screenburn and probably Screenwipe predate Zero Punctuation, it just sounds dumb given that Yahtzee has credited Brooker as an influence on his ZP style.
Rosa Parks was not the first black woman to refuse to give her seat to a white man. Elizabeth Jennings Graham is widely recognized as the first person to do this back in 1854 (although it was a streetcar, not a bus). In 1946, Irene Morgan did the same thing on an actual bus. On March 2, 1955 Claudette Colvin did the same thing. On October 21st of the same year, Mary Louise Smith also did this. Rosa Parks refused her seat on December 1st.
The United States engaged in wars at a distant land against a Muslim faction. War On Terror? How about the Barbary Wars in the early 19th century?
Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore mentions that the Tsarist secret police were worried about people flying planes full of explosives into public buildings, and started to keep an eye on flying schools. 90 years before 9/11
The Yin-Yang symbol of duality is one of the most iconic of all Chinese designs, right? Wrong. And if you're thinking its origins are Japanese or Hindi, you'd be wrong there too. The Chinese started using it, according to the other wiki, in or around the 12th century CE. The Celts were using this symbol as early as 4th century BC... 16 hundred years earlier... and they weren't the first. The Romans were using it a century earlier... and they might have gotten it from the Etruscans. This has been your Mind Blowing for the day.
The first bioweapons were used by the Mongols, who were known to throw plague-infected corpses over enemy walls to infect the soldiers.
The Romans had a tamer version: They'd find the enemy's water supply and throw dead animals inside.
Globalization has been around for a very long time, whether it was in the Roman Empire or the Silk Trade. But one would be surprised to know that, according to historians, economists and other experts, this sort people recognize today (and which pundits like Thomas Friedman promote) had been achieved...by the late 19th-Century (with telegraphs, radios and railroads being the internet of their day). Some go further to state that in some aspects like labor, travel and immigration, "Globalization 1.0" was even more integrated than "2.0" today. In fact, there were those at the time who thought that nothing could possibly reverse their progress...untila certain war broke out in 1914...
Wireframe computer graphics are less than 60 years old...the key word being "computer graphics". Wireframe-style illustrations date back at least as far as the Renaissance.