Jason over at Mental Floss has taken advantage of his access to the New York Times online archives to pinpoint the first mentions of a few household names.
For example, The Simpsons got their first reference in 1988 when the show went on the air, Barack Obama got his nod in 1990 when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. And the iPod got its first mention in 2001:
But while industry analysts said the device appeared to be as consumer friendly as the company said it was, they also pointed to its relatively limited potential audience, around seven million owners of the latest Macintosh computers. Apple said it had not yet decided whether to introduce a version of the music player for computers with the Windows operating system, which is used by more than 90 percent of personal computer users.
Oh the times, how they do change. (Interestingly, the iPod article is available online for free without a subscription).