As far back as we can remember, social media has existed, and we have been utilizing it ever since. But did you know that the beginnings of social media may be found in the late 1970s?
Randy Suess and Ward Christensen, as well as other enthusiasts, including members of the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyist Exchange, or CACHE for short, were the two individuals who first established the Computerized Hobbyists Bulletin Board System. They abbreviated the name to CBBS, and it is believed to be the first system of its sort to develop a file transfer protocol and interface for exchanging files and conducting communications in the early days of the internet. While enduring a severe blizzard in the Chicago region, the project’s engineers launched it in January 1978. The earliest configuration of CBBS used an Altair 800 and an S-100 bus.
Initially intended to let the creators connect with other Chicago-area computer club members and provide content for their club’s newsletter, it gradually expanded to support 300–600 users. CBBS is still active today and contains posts from 2000. The popularity of bulletin board systems among computer users increased as modem speeds improved. You can go back in time and view more than 1,000 bulletin board systems by using the Telnet BBS Guide.
In 1988, as an addition to BBS systems, Jarkko Oikarinen set up the first Internet Relay Chat (often abbreviated as IRC) client and server. Users could communicate with one another in real-time as a result. Additionally, it would create the foundation for instant messaging systems like ICQ and mIRC, which are still in use today.
The mIRC has had the same website since 2008, and ICQ has continued to alter its interface to reflect the times. America Online (AOL) opened to the general public in 1992. Then, in 1995, AOL had 3 million users who could communicate via chat rooms, forums, and email. AOL chat rooms were first used by a few famous people, like Michael Jackson, to organize the inaugural Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, which attracted over 25,000 participants. In 1997, they introduced a cost-free standalone version of their instant messaging service, allowing users to sign off for good in 2017.
Tencent introduced the instant messaging application QQ in 1999. Along with the social network Qzone, which debuted in 2015 and has 574 million users, this service is still available today.
Now that we know how the internet started, let’s talk about the first social networks.
Bolt and Six Degrees were the first social networking websites to go live in 1997. Dan Pelson, the website’s designer, built the email, voice mail, voice chat, message boards, and instant messaging platform with 15 to 20-year-olds in mind. Bolt confirmed its closure in its forums 11 years later. Andrew Weinrich, frequently considered to as the father of social networking, is the developer of Six Degrees. He developed the platform to facilitate communication between strangers. The platform is still in use.
The first social networking patent was issued to him for “A networking database containing a plurality of records for different individuals in which individuals are connected to one another in the database by defined relationships.”
Many more social networking websites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (now known as “X”), were introduced decades later. Although they are accessible to users worldwide, several countries have national social networking sites. These websites include MySpace, Friendster, and Multiply, to name a few. As time passed, more popular social networking sites than the ones previously mentioned began to appear, and as a result, the earlier social networking sites either shut down or changed their branding.
Speaking of rebranding, Twitter has undergone many changes since Elon Musk became CEO, including a name change. You might want to briefly read Lord Ping’s view on X.
Social blogging began after the emergence of social networking websites. The first social blogging platform, known as Open Diary, was introduced in 1998. Using this site, writers could connect, exchange ideas, and leave comments on one other’s posts. Today, writers continue to use the website to post their works.
LiveJournal and a few more websites similar to it were introduced a year later, in 1999, demonstrating various approaches and techniques for blogging.
Social dating websites started to take off along the road. Included in this is Friendster, which debuted in 2002. Jonathan Abrams, the company’s founder, submitted multiple patents that covered ideas for connecting users based on relationships, managing connections, and encouraging the posting of content like images and videos.
Friendster changed from being a social networking site for friends to a “social gaming destination of choice” between 2010 until its closure in 2015. People could communicate, play games, and show off their accomplishments. A few years later, websites for uploading and streaming content were developed, and they are still in operation and continuing to advance today.
Due to how advanced social networking sites have become, one of the most well-known social platforms that debuted in the early 2000s is still widely utilized today.
One of these websites, LinkedIn, was established in 2003 with the goal of helping professionals develop their network connections in order to increase their employment prospects. Users can discover jobs, recommend professional services, and interact with business associates and college alums on the website. Over 830 million people are currently a part of the network worldwide.
A short time after LinkedIn began in August 2003, MySpace did as well. It was designed to help you stay in touch with your pals, and you can also personalize your profile, highlight your besties, meet their friends, post blogs, share images, participate in forums, join groups, find music, and play games. The website changed its name to a music platform in 2013 so that users could connect with their favorite musicians, and it has now evolved into a social network that focuses on music.
Facebook was first introduced in 2004, although it had a previous name: Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg built this website to communicate with other Harvard students, but by the end of 2004, it had more than 1 million members, which caused its popularity to soar. With 3 million users globally, it has grown to be the second-largest social network since that time. possibly more this year. The organization that founded Facebook recently changed its name to Meta, under which it also controls Instagram and the recently formed Thread.
Launched in 2004 as well, Flickr was the first social network for sharing photos. With over 100 million users as of 2019, the network still views itself as the “best online photo management and sharing application in the world.”
Since its launch in 2005, Reddit has grown to have a user base of over 430 million users, 100 thousand communities, and 13 billion posts and comments. Its founders, Alexis Ohanian, and Steve Huffman, designed a website where users could share content, discuss topics of interest, and vote up the most popular stories.
Other popular social media platforms are:
- Sina Weibo (China’s version of Twitter)
More websites are currently being created and getting new users. A number of websites didn’t persist for very long, even though some still remain and are adding new users, which boosts their numbers.
To name a few, they are: