Twitter: a little bit of history

Twitter is the latest internet sensation. It was created by Jack Dorsey in 2006 and has gone from strength to strength. It is believed to have over 100 million users worldwide, a figure that looks set to grow exponentially in the future. Twitter cannot really be defined as providing a single service because it has so many different uses. Dorsey originally came up with the idea as a means of sending short SMS style messages to groups in order to let them know what you’re doing. Clearly his plan was to bring the popularity of the mobile phone text to the web.

Its creation came from an all day brainstorming session carried out by the executives of Odeo, a pod casting company as they were having some financial difficulties. Dorsey admits that after he came up with the short text idea that they had no clue what to call it. Initially, it was called ‘Status’ before it was decided that ‘Twitch’ better encapsulated the physical sensation you get when you phone buzzes in your pocket after receiving a text message. Yet this name didn’t conjure up the imagery they were searching for. Then a quick visit to the dictionary resulted in the name ‘Twitter’.

The original product name was ‘twttr’ because American SMS short codes are five characters long. The first message ever sent on it was by Dorsey on 21 March 2006 when he simply wrote ‘just setting up my twttr’. It was only used initially by Odeo employees before being unleashed on the public in July 2006. Three months later, Dorsey and other high ranking members of Odeo set up Obvious Corporation and bought all of Odeo’s assets, including Twitter became its own company in April 2007.

It was showcased at the South by Southwest festival in 2007 where the number of tweets tripled to 60,000 per day during the course of the festival. Their marketing of the product was superb as they placed two giant televisions in the hallways of the conference which displayed only Twitter messages. Those attending the festival saw how convenient a device it was and started sending tweets to other members of the conference. Twitter won the Web Award at the festival and was well on its way to success.

Its growth has been nothing short of astonishing. In 2007, it was averaging half a million tweets per quarter which mushroomed into an incredible 100 million per quarter in 2008. This rate of growth has increased ever since with some 65 million tweets being sent every single day. This remarkable usage is multiplied even more after major events so expect the figures to be off the charts after the World Cup final for example. With people’s ever increasing need to communicate and the convenience of Twitter, it seems the only way is up for this remarkable product.

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