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11 firsts that shaped social media

Social media in its infancy

In the Beginning

Tomorrow will mark the 10th anniversary of the first YouTube upload ever, a cinematic achievement featuring YouTube cofounder Jawed Karim standing in front of some elephants, and, well, talking about them. To honor Jawed and his elephants, we’ve done some digging to find the most important – or at least, strangest – “firsts” in social media history.

Gloves At First Sight

Some might argue CERN’s most impactful contribution to mankind was the discovery of the Higgs boson. Others might argue it was a poorly Photoshopped picture of four women – CERN’s own comedy band Les Horribles Cernettes – wearing retro dresses and gloves. The photo was the first ever uploaded online, in 1992. The story behind the pic is full of intrigue – Motherboard’s got it here.

Stop Emailing Yourself, Ray

Email inventor Ray Tomlinson sent the first emails to himself in 1971 from one computer to another directly next to it. Tomlinson says he doesn’t remember exactly what the messages said, guessing it was likely “QWERTYUIOP”.

Collect Calling

Above all else, eBay has proven that someone, somewhere, will buy literally anything. Case in point: the first item ever sold on eBay, or AuctionWeb, as it was known at the time. Developer Pierre Omidyar sold a broken laser pointer for $14.83 to a“collector of broken laser pointers.”

Golden Days

If the first Instagram photo wasn’t of an adorable animal, we’d be infuriated. Only July 16, 2010, CEO Kevin Systrom snapped a picture of a golden retriever at a taco stand, sending social media down a path of cuteness and selfies from which it would never return.

Dust It Off

Facebook’s oldest profile belongs, predictably, to Mark Zuckerberg. But the first non-founder to join thefacebook? That would be Zuckerberg’s roommate, Arie Hasit – he’s since graduated Harvard, moved to Israel, and studied to become a rabbi.

Vowels Not Welcome

The first public tweet was sent on March 21, 2006, by cofounder Jack Dorsey: “just setting up my twttr”. Dorsey’s disregard for vowels finally caught on seven years later, when the platform announced – if only for a day – they would go vowel free.

Heard It Through The SpaceVine

We could try to dig up the first Vine from earth – but let’s face it, the first Vine from space is surely way cooler. Last year, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman sent out a time lapse of a single Earth orbit from the International Space Station as it flew parallel with the terminator line.

The Blogfather

It’s impossible to define with certainty who invented blogging as we know it today, but we’re going to side with The New York Times, which called Justin Hall of Justin’s Links “the founding father of personal bloggers” – when he was 19, no less.

Jimmy, Meet World

To find the first edit ever made on Wikipedia, we’ve consulted – you guessed it – Wikipedia. Cofounder Jimmy Wales says he made Wikipedia’s first edit: “Hello World!”

Down Memo Lane

Cofounder Alexis Ohanian got Reddit’s political streak churning early. Nine years ago he posted a link to The Downing Street Memo, which sought the truth about the beginnings of the Iraq war. While the memo may be largely forgotten, for legions of bronies, trolls, and AMA fans, its legacy lives on.

Now go forth (and be first).


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