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The History of Social Media: How It All Started


Humans by nature are social animals. We are designed in such a way that we need to communicate with others on a regular basis to survive. We have always relied on communication to make our relationships strong. Apart from face-to-face communication, we have struggled in long distance communication and have dreamt about plenty of creative solutions. One of the first being – The Letter.


Letters were one of the oldest and common modes of communication used by people to transmit messages in long distance. The messenger had to carry the letters to the receiver and wait for the reply. It was an inconvenient mode of transmission as it used to take weeks to get a reply back. But back in those days, without technology at hand, that was convenient, per say. But it all changed when Samuel Morse invented the electrical telegraph in 1837 which could transfer messages a lot faster than a carrier pigeon and a rider could. Although telegraph messages needed Morse code to transmit the messages and were short, it was a revolutionary way to convey messages, news, and information.


Moving with the times, ‘The Golden Age’ of science and technology beckoned. The invention of radio, television, and telephone revolutionised the world. It changed our perception of the way we view the world. It helped people communicate across great distances instantaneously, something that mankind had never experienced before. Into the 20th century, technology began to grow rapidly. The creation of the first supercomputer led mankind to the idea of connecting those computers via some kind of network which is known today as The Internet.


The earliest social media can be traced back to the 1970’s with the roots being CompuServe and Bulletin Board System (BBS). CompuServe presented mankind with the very first experience of instantaneous communication with people miles away. The messages could be sent and received within minutes, though data transmission speed was incredibly slow. It also presented people with the first experience of Online Forums where people can gather and discuss ideas and events. This was the first social media experience for mankind.


With people getting the first taste of social media through CompuServe, innovation and invention were only a matter of time. The BBS was the internet’s first file transfer system which was based on local networks. Individuals could log into a central host and can use it to communicate and download games and movies, many of which were pirated. In a sense, it gave rise to the idea of peer to peer file sharing and torrent downloads. Now with the internet within reach of the public, the world of online social networking really took off. IRC’s or internet relay chat rose to popularity with the age of instant messaging beckoned. As a result, the world witnessed the rise of cyber cafes.


But it was not until the late 90s, the modern social media networking sites came into the existence. The first of all social media was Six Degrees, an online platform which allowed users to create their own profiles and friend others on it. This was really the forefather of the social media giants of today. But with the lack of proper maintenance and spam filtering, it slowly faded away, but left behind a great idea and legacy.


After the invention of blogging, the social media sites started popping out everywhere. The notion of “viral content” came into existence. Sites like Myspace, Friendster, LinkedIn, Photobucket and Flickr started climbing to the top of the charts. Search engines became the most visited sites. Yahoo! was one of the internet giants back then, and it still is. They had various services on the run such as email services, gave rise to one of the most iconic chat services of all titled – The Yahoo Messenger with features such as quirky backgrounds, the concept of chat rooms, the concept of emojis – Yahoo was the real king.


This was the period of internet boom. People from developed countries were having a race for the Personal Computer with which they can surf the internet with the abysmally slow dial-up connection. Naturally graphical contents were impractical, and the chat-based system remained prevalent. Google was still in the shadows, Myspace was running rampant, LinkedIn was proving to be the best platform for business connections, and Facebook and Twitter were born.


Today, Facebook and Twitter rule the social media world. While LinkedIn took a different path, Facebook and Twitter took social media even further. Facebook provided users with a platform to upload photos, experiences and express opinions in details whereas Twitter provided a place where people can speak up and express their feelings in short, quickly and reach everyone. Twitter was the social media platform that popularised use of hashtag. And today hashtag is an inseparable part of everyone’s social media post.


The impact social media has provided in our lives today is incomprehensible. The likes of Facebook and Twitter has redefined how we live out our every day routine, how we do our business with redefined advertisements and guidelines for social communication, has brought in thousands of jobs and practically built the large section of the online world we live in.


As social media continues its domination, life with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn is unimaginable. Find out how you can best use various social media platforms to make your life easier and grow your business. Contact VIS – The Digital Marketing Agency in Melbourne. Call 1300 777 847 or write at