YouTube has grown to become the single largest videos platform in the world, but as with most great things, it had humble beginnings. So humble in fact that the first video on YouTube is easily forgotten.
It all began back on April 23, 2005 (April 24 in India), when YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded an innocuous 18-second clip titled ‘Me at the zoo’. The video has received just over 48 million views in all these years, and is the only thing Karim has ever uploaded to YouTube.
— YouTube (@YouTube) April 23, 2018
Most of us have seen the clip on more than one occasion over the years, and it includes Karim making a slightly risqué innuendo about elephants. Mind you, when I say risqué, I mean by 2005 standards, because the game has moved on quite a bit since then. In the video, Karim stands in front of two elephants, explaining that “they have really, really, really long… trunks. And that’s cool”.
In case you didn’t know it already, YouTube was founded in 2005 by three PayPal employees, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, as a video-sharing website where users could upload, share and view user-generated content. Following its growing popularity, it was promptly acquired by Google for US$1.65 billion in stock, making it the company’s second-largest acquisition at that time.
Over the years, we have seen YouTube grow from that video at the zoo, to videos from everywhere on earth and even from outer space. The zoo video almost makes us feel a lot more nostalgic for a time when YouTube was new and being able to play videos like magic. While nowadays we tend to take YouTube for granted, it wasn’t always the vast empire it currently is.