In today’s online world, it’s hard to even imagine a day without Facebook – but it didn’t simply appear out of nowhere.

Social media as we know it has been a long time coming, but where did it all begin? Let’s take a step into the past and discover social media from the start.


That’s right – social networking goes back as far as 1971. This was the year the very first email was sent. The two computers were set up alongside one another, and the email simply read ‘qwertyuiop’.


In 1978, the Bulletin Board System (BBS) was introduced. The system was hosted on personal computers through the use of a modem, dialled in via phone line.

This was the first time computer owners could interact with each other through the net. Although slow, it was a start!

Later in the year, the first official bulletin board was created – Usenet. Usenet was home to news, funny posts and articles – not dissimilar from the topics and memes we see today!

Usenet went on to inspire the ‘Groups’ features we see today on sites like Facebook and Yahoo.


The year 1988 welcomed Internet Relay Chat – the first instant messenger. It could be used for chat, links and file sharing, but was only accessible to those who used Unix.


Do you remember Geocities? It was the first social networking site, making it’s debut in 1994! Users could create their own web site, which was then grouped into a ‘city’ based on its content.


In 1997, one of the most successful instant messengers of all time was launched – AOL Instant Messenger. As well as chatting, members could create a bio and share their details, as well as being able to look up their friends.

AOL itself also hosted message boards and chat rooms which continued through the height of the company’s popularity.


Friendster was the first ‘high profile’ social networking site, reaching 3,000,000 users in its first three months.


Now for one we all knew and loved – MySpace came along in 2003. Although essentially a clone of Friendster to begin with, MySpace soon became the more popular site due to its freedom of customisation, music, videos and more – soon amassing over 90 million users!

Also, this year was the launch of LinkedIn – the first networked aimed at professionals that is still popular today.


2004 is when Facebook first entered the game. At the time, no-one knew just how successful the site would become.

Back then (known as TheFacebook), Facebook was only open to students at Harvard University – the school of the site’s creator Mark Zuckerberg.

After gaining traction, Facebook soon opened up to the general public and began to evolve. Today, it has over one billion users!


A lot has changed since then, with social media now part of most peoples’ day to day life. New networks are appearing all the time, many of which integrate with one another for a cross-platform experience.

Although we may not have covered absolutely every aspect of social media history, it’s no doubt interesting to take a look back and see how far we’ve come.

Do you remember any of these blasts from the past? When did you first get into social media? Tell us about your experiences with social networking in the comments! We’d love to hear your stories.