The history of social media


Social media has been around for a lot longer than you think.  When I started blogging in 2004, the term social media didn’t exist.   I used the term Web 2.0 which had been coined by Tim O’Reilly back in 2004. I started using the term ‘social networking’ in early 2007, and I didn’t use the term ‘Social media’ until later in 2008 – although my blog post seems to indicate that the term was already in use by then.  Often words seem to slip into our vocabulary and we’re unaware when we started to use the term.  So I thought I’d do a little bit of research

I started to delve around in the Internet archives to look back a little but further than my work experience, my blogging history and my memory – and I’ve created a timeline that goes right back to the beginning of connected computers:

1969: One of the earliest bulletin boards was ARPANet, where the first terminals were linked together in November 1969

1971: First email sent between computers

1978: first BBS created online.  Single user access only

1983: The Joint Academic NETwork (JANET) went live using an early version of the X.25 network

1984: Fidonet, the first non commercial network, was founded to link up systems such as ARPANet, Minitel and Milnet

1985: One of the popular bulletin boards in California was the WELL (the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) and is still running today

1986: CompuServe (CompuServe Information Service) and AOL provided walled gardens for users to contribute to bulletin boards within these subscription services and extending it’s reach outside of the United States, firstly to Japan in 1986

1988: In August Jarkko Oikarinen, a developer working at the University of Oulu, developed an online chatting mechanism called Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which he developed to replace a program known as MultiUser Talk (MUT).

1993: The pornographic site Rusty-N-Edie had almost 124 Computers and over 6000 subscribers. Any subscriber living outside of the US had to dial in to the US numbers, paying for an international telephone call

1994: Geocities created

1997: Six Degrees website launched – the first social networking site

2002: Friendster launched gathering 3 million users in the first 3 months

2003: My Space launched

2004: Facebook launched – initially for college students, then opened up to companies such as Microsoft in 2005.  my goodness, I’ve had my account for a long time!

2005: YouTube purchased by Google and accessed by millions

2006: Twitter created – but didn’t get much traction until SxSW  in 2007 when it exploded in popularity

2008: Groupon launched

2010: Google Buzz, Quora launched

2011: Social gift, and hundreds more social media start ups launched.  Decline of My Space, Groupon heading for bankruptcy perhaps?

We’ve certainly come a long way – and with innovations happening every week, I think social media is here to stay.  So here’s to the next 40 years Smile

The idea for this originally came from Inspired Mag, Chapter 2 of my book, and some trips down memory lane and Wikipedia

Image Credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


3 thoughts on “The history of social media

    1. eileenb Post author

      Eek! There are SO many others I now know I should have put in too – but it would have been a heck of a long blog post 🙂
      Thanks for the reminder!

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