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It is obvious that for pretty much everything there had to be a beginning, a first, something that got the ball rolling. Sometimes if you’re the first you get to control the category. The name of your product actually becomes the name of all products in the same category: Coke, Kleenex, Jello, Xerox, Gatorade, Cuties.

Sometimes if you’re the first, you just get to be big: Home Depot, Best Buy, Toys R Us, eBay, Amazon.

And sometimes, being the first means that you become a trendsetter. You invent, design or create something that is so new, so different or so unexpected yet so obvious, the rest of the world just can’t help but copy you: soft butter, liquid soap, sliced bread, frozen food, reality TV.

It must be a good feeling to blaze a trail so well that what comes after you turns your trail into a well-worn path. Such was the case for architect John Portman and a building he designed in Atlanta…a building so radical that it created a new standard in architecture and, in doing so, proved its worth as the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.

And while we’re on the subject, we’d like to take time to give credit to some of the people who, by coming before us, made it possible to produce this week’s story. There is Georgia Globe Design News at, the Peach Review at, the folks of Smithsonian Magazine at and the quirky but very interesting Strong National Museum of Play at Thank you all for helping us talk about one of Atlanta’s firsts.

Lance Russell is an Atlanta-based filmmaker and media communicator who, for over three decades, has been entrusted by clients to tell their stories. A seasoned producer with an innate ability to cut to...

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