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The First People were the creators of the Machine and were thought to have been exterminated by a mysterious event. In fact, The First People were Walter Bishop, with possible aid from Astrid Farnsworth and Ella Blake.
The First People were supposedly a society of technologically advanced humans that existed before dinosaurs. They were the first race of humans to evolve on the planet. The First People discovered the Machine, the source of all creation and destruction. They were assumed to have been able to transmit a radio signal, number stations, with coordinates to all the pieces of the Machine, thirty-nine in total, which were buried deep in areas all over the globe. The First People measured time in a manner vastly different from modern standards. Their calendar, for instance, consisted of the numbers 12, 34, 17, 9, 15, 8, 42, 40 and 27. Their society, however, was wiped out by an unknown cataclysm, as well as any other records of their existence.
It is interesting to note that, despite the specifics of the time, the rest of the First People history may indeed be true, as the events of 2026 were extremely cataclysmic in nature. It is possible, then, that the entire universe was wiped out shortly after Walter sent the Machine back in time.
Although the First People as an ancient species may or may not have existed, they were not the true origins of the Machine. Walter Bishop, possibly working with Astrid Farnsworth and Ella Blake, took advantage of a wormhole to send the Machine back in time from the year 2026. In this future, the Alternate Universe had been destroyed by Peter Bishop. This had cataclysmic effects on our universe- effects that would eventually lead to its destruction. Walter explained to Peter that he would institute a system in the machine that would enable the 2011 version of Peter to see the destruction he would cause while inside the machine in the hopes that he would then make a different choice, thus preventing the future from ever happening. ("The Day We Died")
The first discovered record of the First People was a book, entitled "The First People." The book, written by Seamus Wiles in 1897, only had six known editions. Edward Markum obtained the book and later sold it off to Peter Bishop and Fauxlivia Dunham . ("6955 kHz") Massive Dynamic also discovered three more additional copies of The First People book published in three different languages, each printed only about two years apart. Apart from the translations, the copies of the book were virtually identical, although penned by different authors. Brandon Fayette revealed to Nina Sharp that the books had been sought out by William Bell years prior. ("Reciprocity") William Bell did indeed have a copy of the First People book. ("Concentrate and Ask Again") Nina discovered that all of the authors of the First People books were in fact anagrams for Sam Weiss. The author of the books was the fifth Sam Weiss, with the third and fourth Sam Weiss's dedicating their lives to retrieving records of the First People that were eventually published by their predecessor. ("The Last Sam Weiss")
The First People were "rediscovered" by Fringe Division. As part of a ploy from the Alternate Universe, Fauxlivia hired a shapeshifter to piggyback a signal that would cause amnesia to the Number Station signals originated by the First People. This incident caught the attention of Fringe Division. Their investigation led them to the First People, and consequently the pieces of the Machine. With this discovery, Phase One of Walternate's plan had reached fruition. ("6955 kHz")
- "First People" appeared as a Fringe Science in the opening splash for the season two finale, "Over There", even though they were not mentioned on the show until episode six of season three.