Pin 1 is always marked in one way or another to avoid confusion due to symmetry (after which known numbering schemes can be used). The most important thing to note is that the orientation of the letters or numbers printed on the chip have absolutely nothing to do with the actual orientation of the pins. Never assume that all chips should be readable from the same angle!
The most obvious marking for pin 1 is a small number '1'. The first thing you should do is look very carefully for it. Ribbon cables are often marked with a blue or red stripe on pin 1. Some chips are marked with a dot, notch or small angled cut in the material just above pin 1. Rectangular chips are usually marked with a notch on one of ends; the first pin counter clockwise from this notch is pin 1. If you can't find a marking on the socket or connector, then try looking at the pads (the holes in the board the socket or connector is soldered into). For through-hole devices, pin 1 has a square pad, the rest should be round.