Go Back In Time: The First Ever YouTube Video, Tweet, Image, Website, Email, & More

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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

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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

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