Text removed as "encyclopedic":
A 1 was first applied to persons and other things by Dickens in 1837 in Pickwick Papers :'He must be a first-rater,' said Sam. :'A1,' replied Mr. Roker.
I'm not sure I agree with that determination. A dated citation is relevant to the word's etymology. Perhaps it could be shunted off the the new type of citations page? Or is that not working yet? --Connel MacKenzie 1 July 2005 02:13 (UTC)