March 21, 2013
Looking Back At Seven Years Of Twitter
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
What started with nearly a whisper has grown into the largest global shouting match in history.
In 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sat in front of his computer and tapped out the words “Just setting up my twttr.”
It´s an unassuming message — nothing more than a passing status update with no real significance. In the seven years to follow this inaugural tweet, millions more would send out messages similar in content and insignificance.
Today is Twitter´s seventh birthday, and they´d rather not focus on the trite or trivial messages shared on the site. Instead, they´re celebrating some global events which sent the world a´ Twitter — moments like the 2012 Olympics, the Egyptian revolution and Oprah Winfrey´s very first Tweet.
In a video posted to their blog, the history of Twitter is displayed against a backdrop of emotional music. From the very first legal pad sketches of how the founders wanted “Stat.us” to be designed, to the first tweet and the expansion of the service to Japan and the UK, the video ends with a sentimental “We can´t wait to see what you´ll tweet next.”
Twitter wasn´t always known as such. In 2006 the service began as “Stat.us,” a site focused on one single aspect of social networking, the status update. The name was then changed to “Twttr,” and was paired with a logo any soda company would have drooled over.
In the beginning, users could only post their updates to the service through the Twttr website and SMS messages, an era to which Twitter seems keen on returning.
Twitter was an idea that seemed destined to fail. Many wondered if the social network would ever convince users to log in only to read updates like “Eating a sandwich,” “going to bed” or “stuck in traffic.” Blame it on vanity, but the allure of Twitter began to take off, and hundreds of thousands of people began using the service. So many people began using it, for instance, that an entire meme was created for Twitter´s “Fail Whale,” a happy looking cartoon whale held aloft by a handful of birds. This image was seen anytime the service went down, and was so popular that it even spawned a fan club. There was a span of time where the Fail Whale showed up too often, however, thus closely linking the whale to Twitter´s brand.
The Fail Whale has since been eliminated from the service, either as a branding decision or because of improved reliability of their service. Twitter is able to support intense traffic these days. During last year´s elections, users were sending up to 327,452 Tweets per minute and nary a fail whale was seen.
“As we´ve grown, Twitter has become a true global town square — a public place to hear the latest news, exchange ideas and connect with people all in real time,” writes Karen Wickre (or @kvox) on the celebratory blog post.
Twitter is still mocked from time to time for being a platform for vanity and is criticized for shutting out its partners. Despite this, Twitter´s popularity continues to grow as more people visit the “global town square” to discuss ideas and hear the latest news.
Though it´s only been seven years, it´s difficult to imagine a world without Twitter. So, here´s to you, Twitter, and to many more years to come.