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history of the webAll of you who are reading these lines, including me, take the Internet for granted. Although it might not have been around when we were younger, its quick development over the past 20 years has left almost no one untouched. While some of us live and breath Internet, others “just” use email and make the occasional order from Amazon. Regardless of how you use it, it’s probably affecting your life in some way.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case, and many of the services we now use daily were not even around 20 years ago. What was the first website to ever be published? What was the first Amazon item ever ordered? What is the first line to ever be tweeted? Curious? So was I. After several hours of extensive research, I came up with some very interesting answers. Buckle your seatbelts, we’re going back in time!

The First Website

history of the web

This is a restored version of the first website to ever be published on the World Wide Web. At least as far as we know. Not unlike the Wiki pages of today, this website, with its simple header of “World Wide Web”, is just a network of links providing information about the Web as it was back in the early 90s. The links all work, so aside from it being an archeological piece of Internet history, you can actually browse it for some interesting, if dated, information.

You can read more about the advent of the World Wide Web here.

The First Image

old tweet search

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Yes, this is apparently the first photo to ever make it to the World Wide Web. And yes, it is a Photoshop disaster. Tracked by Motherboard to its origins, this photo turned 20 just over a month ago. The reason behind this random photo becoming the first-ever on the Web is pretty fascinating, and includes a parody band by the name of The Horribles Cernettes, and the fact that Tim Berners-Lee, who consequentially invented the World Wide Web, was also, apparently, a cross-dresser.

Read the full story and find the original, un-photoshopped photo here.

The First Email

The first email to ever be sent between two computers is much older than any website or image. It happened around 1971, two year after the invention of ARPANET, the world’s first functioning network. The person to send this very historic piece of text was Ray Tomlinson, who worked on ARPANET, and is believed to have sent several nonsense test messages while working on the system, one of which finally worked. As a result, no one really knows what the first email really said, but according to Ray Tomlinson, it was “something like QWERTYUIOP”. Inspiring!

Read more about the first email and Ray Tomlinson’s story here.

The First YouTube Video

The first video to ever be uploaded to YouTube was only 18 seconds long, and featured one of its co-founders, Jawed Karim, enjoying the elephants at the San Diego Zoo. The video was uploaded on April 23rd, 2005, is titled “Me at the zoo”, and has nothing much going for it aside from the ground-breaking history-making fact that it’s the first ever video on today’s most successful video website. Only a year and a half later, on October 2006, Google announced its YouTube acquisition for $1.65 billion, so you can only imagine how fast things rolled from “Me at the zoo”.

Learn more about YouTube’s history here.

The First Tweet On Twitter

old tweet search

just setting up my twttr”, said Jack Dorsey, one of Twitter’s co-founders, back in March 21st, 2006. While this was actually an automated tweet, it was the first one to ever appear on Twitter, almost 6.5 years ago. Fortunately, the name has been changed to Twitter since then, and the network has also gained about 100 million users. If you’re curious, the first tweet to have actually been written by a human, seems to be this – Jack Dorsey again, inviting coworkers to the new social network, only 10 minutes after the first-ever automated tweet was sent.

Find more interesting Twitter facts here.

The First Wikipedia Article

old tweet search

The matter of the first Wikipedia article is a bit more complex. Without getting too technical, Wikipedia’s database changed sometime after its launch, on January 15, 2001, and no edits were actually saved from that day. While the very first edit is probably “Hello World!” by co-founder Jimmy Wales, that edit has been lost forever. However, there are some edits that survived on record from the next day, January 16, 2001. In fact, these are the three oldest edits that currently exist on Wikipedia. 11 years is no joke!

Read more about Wikipedia’s very first articles here.

The First Amazon Item To Be Sold

old websites

Amazon sells millions of items every month. We order things on Amazon without thinking twice, but what was the very first item ever sold? Not surprisingly, it was a book. Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, who initially named the company Cadabra, and meant for it to be an online book store. Almost 20 years ago, on July 1995, Amazon sold its first book, a science textbook by the name of “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought” by Douglas Hofstadter. Just in case you’re wondering, you can still get this book on Amazon, even for the Kindle!

Read more about the history of Amazon here.

The First eBay Item To Be Sold

history of the web

So the first Amazon item to ever be sold was a book. Not surprising for an online bookstore. But what was the first item to ever be sold on eBay? As we all know, eBay sells everything from used hats to vanilla beans, and there’s almost nothing you can’t find if you know how to look.

eBay was founded as AuctionWeb by Pierre Omidyar in 1994. Started as a hobby, Omidyar put up several items for sale on his website, and in 1995 managed to sell his first-ever item: a broken laser pointer which sold for just over $14. According to Omidyar, the person who bought it knew it was broken, and claimed to be collecting broken laser pointers. How much do you think a broken laser pointer would bring on eBay today?

Learn more about eBay’s history here.


This was without a doubt one of the most interesting posts I’ve ever researched for MakeUseOf. Aside from the trivia side of it, it’s also truly inspiring. The small thing we invent today can be tomorrow’s history before we know it!

Know some more trivia bits about the history of the Web? Do share them in the comments!

Image credit: Wesley Fryer

  1. Anandu B Ajith
    October 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    thanks I Need This For My Project

  2. Mahesh Bansod
    September 9, 2012 at 6:12 am

    But from which website was the first email sent?

  3. Raabster Raabe
    September 9, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Love it - adding it to my "The Cloud" lesson on Monday - teaching Millennium Babes this year (Grades 8 & 9) and they are FASCINATED by this trivia.

  4. David Yaroshevsky
    September 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    kinda interesting to go back to all the internet giants' roots

  5. rish404
    September 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Ha! Now this is pretty cool stuff

  6. Akash Kotak
    September 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm


  7. Adjei Kofi
    September 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    wow. amazing. the world is indeed 'changing'

  8. Charlita McPheeters
    September 8, 2012 at 3:24 am


  9. fatihamzah
    September 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    History oh, Very interesting to know them

  10. Shawnee McKee
    September 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    This is so pointless but funny and interesting at the same time!

  11. Joshua L
    September 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the post! I love seeing where we came from. It's so easy to forget just how far things have come in such a short period of time.

  12. Joshua L
    September 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Very cool article. I love seeing how far things have come.

  13. Mudit Warrior
    September 6, 2012 at 3:24 am

    not a new one... But ok

  14. Ellen Odza
    September 6, 2012 at 2:25 am

    A broken laser pointer? Really? Weird.

  15. Esmaeil
    September 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    This article was one of the best articles I've ever read and I translated it to Persian @

  16. Rajaa Chowdhury
    September 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Fascinating and makes one nostalgic.

  17. Sebastian Hadinata
    September 5, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Interesting article, should add more if possible. First facebook post, first friendster, etc.

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      I tried finding the first Facebook post, but it's not that easy to find!

  18. Arron Walker
    September 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Pretty cool look into the past - nice job, and intruiging read.

  19. Usman Mubashir
    September 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Now this is something enjoyable.

  20. Mark
    September 4, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    how about first audio?
    or first search on the internet(is this even possible)?

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      I actually tried to find the first search, or at least the first search query on Google, but it was impossible to find, at least for me.

      First audio is an interesting idea! Didn't think of that one. :)

  21. rama moorthy
    September 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Nice ... what s the first MakeUseOf artcicle ..? is my first web visit and also know my first gmail Id , yahoo Id,Hotmail Id and dropbox ,cx , Google drive and ADrive accounts. and MUO article and many things...

  22. Ashwin Ramesh
    September 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Haha.. the first youtube video was funny :P Thanks for the article, Yaara!

  23. Muhammad Ahmad
    September 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Really inspiring post. Thanks for sharing nice info.

  24. Irshaad Abdool
    September 4, 2012 at 6:34 am

    very interesting article

    euu, what was the first article posted on MakeUseOf? :P
    and whats the story of MUO?

  25. Mani Ahmed
    September 4, 2012 at 5:43 am

    awsome review ... at the age of 34 i so feel addicted to old internet time .. the sabeer bhatia times (the hotmail guy) well for me he was the first email thingy we ever got ... well done!

  26. xbalesx
    September 4, 2012 at 5:39 am

    Cool stuff here...very interesting to see what these have turned into...

  27. Ahmed Khalil
    September 4, 2012 at 4:46 am

    history class? it is nice to see old things like this, but it is just for fun

  28. Eserpess der
    September 4, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Isnt history awsome! XD

  29. Achraf52
    September 4, 2012 at 3:10 am

    I would love to know the first Makeuseof article .

  30. Shakirah Faleh Lai
    September 4, 2012 at 1:18 am is the first thing I use when get started.

  31. Kaashif Haja
    September 4, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Old is Gold!! :D

  32. A. Daniel
    September 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Is amazing how the internet is evolving and how it has changed the way we communicate learn and behave. This is just the tip of the iceberg... Scary!

  33. IamAshMcLean
    September 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I don't remember most of the things, but my First Youtube Video was a video from 432 Anniversary of my town, Coamo, and first Webpage that I visited was xD

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 4, 2012 at 12:36 am

      That's really cool that you remember that! I remember several of my first websites, but not the very first one. And I really don't remember my first YouTube video!

      • IamAshMcLean
        September 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm was on the time of 1999-2001, the most interesting a visited Latin website after, according to friends.

  34. Igor Rizvi?
    September 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Very interesting,thanks for sharing

  35. Jeff Hamilton
    September 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Never really thought about it. Kinda like the first music video on MTV, huh?

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      I guess!

    • Philip Nelson
      September 9, 2012 at 2:48 am

      There are music videos on MTV?

      • Jeff hamilton
        September 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm

        Well, there used to be.

  36. Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
    September 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    What about Facebook's first status? Or Reddit(becoming more and more popular)'s first legitimate post(this one might be tough, since the creator said that first they placed 'phantom' posters to post content, until at some day, users started making the list of content)?

    And what was Make Use Of's first article about?

    Great job on finding these and the additional information though. Very informative :)

    • Yaara Lancet
      September 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

      I actually tried finding the first status on Facebook, but since the network went through so many different iterations, it's hard to pinpoint the very first status or decide what it is.

      As for Reddit, didn't think about it! I actually never use Reddit.

      I think the very first MakeUseOf post was about a sticky note app. :) Way back in 2006!

      • Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
        September 4, 2012 at 1:55 am

        Oh, okay. And I don't use Reddit either, but since the increasing popularity after Obama used it, I thought it might be a nice touch :)

        And you're right, the first article is indeed about an app for making notes. Memento:

        I like how it's the first article and it already has a person talking about bookmarking MUO. Did you guys already expect to grow to such a big amount of subscribers or were you guys just expecting some hundreds?

        • Yaara Lancet
          September 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

          MakeUseOf was started 6 years ago by Aibek and Kaly, I'm not sure what they expected when they started in terms of numbers, but they sure did a good job with it!

      • Shmuel Mendelsohn
        September 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm

        Anyone out there, is that correct? Does anyone have a copy of the article?

      • Ashok Sundar
        September 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

        Good going... :)

  37. Gideon Pioneer
    September 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Hahaha. A person collecting broken laser pens... riiiight xD

    Fascinating article. Thanks for that!

  38. Ale Bendersky
    September 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Nice! Youtube´s case is unbelievable. From 0 to 1.65 billion in only a year and a half

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