On Its 10th Birthday, a Short History of Twitter in Tweets
Twitter turns ten today.
As it enters its awkward pre-teen years, the company that invented fame in 140 characters has had a tough run recently. It lost its longtime CEO Dick Costolo, who was replaced by co-founder and formerly ousted CEO turned new CEO-slash-savior Jack Dorsey. Yes, people use Twitter (more than 300 million of them), and yes, Twitter brings in money (more than $500 million each quarter), but its stock plummeted to an all-time low this year as Wall Street worried over its slowing user growth.
People rightfully complain that the platform can be a hotbed for hostility. It also offers a loudspeaker for the disenfranchised, but swarms of voices also silence through harassment. It’s a company, it’s a platform, and it’s the world’s biggest cocktail party. That means sometimes it’s a mess.
But for all its problems, Twitter is everywhere. It’s the place where the world talks to itself, often sharing and even making news in the process. Twitter has become a powerful force, but it wasn’t always that way.
It all begins with a tweet from Jack Dorsey himself.
just setting up my twttr
— Jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
— Jack (@jack) March 13, 2011
The San Francisco crew that birthed Twitter as a spinoff of a podcasting company starts chiming in.
oh this is going to be addictive — Dom Sagolla (@dom) March 21, 2006
wishing I had another sammich
— Biz Stone (@biz) March 21, 2006
The @reply is born.
@ buzz – you broke your thumb and youre still twittering? that’s some serious devotion
— Robert Andersen (@rsa) November 3, 2006
As is the #hashtag.
how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
— Chris Messina ✌︎ (@chrismessina) August 23, 2007
In late 2008, co-founder Ev Williams takes over as CEO.
couple near me at whole foods are discussing Twitter. she thinks it’s boring. bitch.
— Ev Williams (@ev) March 28, 2008
By 2009, news starts breaking on Twitter, most famously when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River.
http://twitpic.com/135xa – There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.
— Janis Krums (@jkrums) January 15, 2009
That same year, the first major Twitter celebrity passes 1 million followers.
Victory is ours!!!!!!!!
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) April 17, 2009
The next day, Oprah joins.
HI TWITTERS . THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOME. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY .
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) April 17, 2009
Then the first tweet posted from space arrives.
From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!
— Mike Massimino (@Astro_Mike) May 12, 2009
By 2010, the Library of Congress had determined Twitter is important enough to be preserved for posterity.
Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archive — ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006! Details to follow.
— Library of Congress (@librarycongress) April 14, 2010
The next year, Twitter plays a central role in the Arab Spring #revolution.
— Anonymous (@Anon_VV) January 26, 2011
It’s also one of the first places where signs appeared that something was about to go down in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Spoiler: Osama Bin Laden was killed.)
Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).
— Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) May 1, 2011
And it becomes an organizing tool for Occupy Wall Street.
Can we get 20,000 people to barricade Wall Street until their demand for real democracy is met? http://bit.ly/re9ENL #occupywallstreet
— Adbusters (@Adbusters) July 14, 2011
Hey, celebrities use Twitter to rant at airlines too!
Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving.#nowonderamericaairisbankrupt
— ABFoundation (@ABFalecbaldwin) December 6, 2011
By 2012, Twitter was getting weird.
Everything happens so much
— Horse ebooks (@Horse_ebooks) June 28, 2012
Welcome to social media, Pope Benedict.
Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.
— Pope Benedict (@PopeBenedictXIV) December 12, 2012
In 2013, Twitter launches Vine, the eminently shareable six-second video clips that have spawned the careers of a new kind of celebrity.
— dick costolo (@dickc) January 23, 2013
The ad industry’s collective head explodes over the seeming potential of real-time advertising tied to major events, such as the power going out at Super Bowl XLVII.
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Weird Twitter stays weird.
if your grave doesnt say “rest in peace” on it you are automatically drafted into the skeleton war
— wint (@dril) July 28, 2013
Also in 2013, Twitter becomes a publicly traded company.
We’ve confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale.
— Twitter (@twitter) September 12, 2013
Ellen tweets the most retweeted tweet of all time at the 2014 Oscars.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
Sports take over Twitter as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil becomes the site’s biggest sports event to date.
Selfie 2…:-) pic.twitter.com/RJh7RnXXUw
— Lukas-Podolski.com (@Podolski10) July 13, 2014
Tweetstorms begin to form.
1/Few intellectual concepts in our time have been mangled by observers more than Clay Christensen’s disruption idea. Some thoughts:
— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) December 2, 2014
Twitter acquires and launches live video service Periscope.
And the winner is… @periscopeco
— dick costolo (@dickc) May 3, 2015
Caitlyn Jenner becomes the fastest Twitter account to reach 1 million users.
I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
@jack is back.
— dick costolo (@dickc) June 11, 2015
And POTUS finally tweets.
Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
It turns out people really like “faves” and really don’t like “likes.”
“We’re losing the social media war! What do we do! I need ideas!”
“What if we change stars to hearts?”
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) November 3, 2015
And, don’t forget Election 2016 Twitter…
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) September 17, 2015
Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2016
So, thanks Twitter. But, really, you have distracted from my creative process.
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