Avant la lettre
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Avant la lettre (Latin ante litteram) is a French phrase used to describe something or someone seen as a precursor or forerunner of something (such as an artistic or political movement) before that something was recognized and named, e.g. "a post-modernist avant la lettre", "a feminist avant la lettre"; the expression literally means before the letter, i.e. "before it had a name". It is also called ahead of its time.