We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

YouTube in review: the history, hits and misses

Online videoYouTube has celebrated the third anniversary of its acquisition by Google with the announcement that it's now streaming a full billion video views a day.

Most, I assume, consist of cats playing music and teenagers dancing awkwardly. Still, a billion views a day is nothing to say "Numa Numa" to. YouTube has come a long way in a short time - evolving much, you might say, like the dance moves shown in its most viewed video of all time.

YouTube: The beginning

YouTube entered the world cold, naked and confused in April of 2005. That's when the service's first video, a frank and engaging discussion of elephants, surfaced on the site.

The guy seen in the clip is Jawed Karim, one of three people involved in YouTube's founding. He and his cohorts met while they were all working at PayPal. One of them even designed PayPal's now-ubiquitous logo.

As the story goes, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley - the other two dudes - got a burst of inspiration when they realised how tough it was to share videos they'd shot at a dinner party. They started chatting, they say, and came up with the concept of a site that would make casual video sharing quick and easy.

The extent of Karim's involvement comes with plenty of questions. As this 2006 Time story explains, his role in the company has been played down in many accounts. He, however, says the dinner party never occurred and that he came up with the initial idea.

YouTube... for dating?

Whoever thought of it, the initial concept wasn't exactly what you'd expect. YouTube's original goal, its founders have said, was to build a video version of HOTorNOT.com - you know, the site where you look at a bunch of uggos and rate how repulsive they are.

Sure enough, early renditions of the YouTube home page include fields asking your gender and the gender and ages of people you're "seeking".

Recommend a dating website and win a prize

Needless to say, that setup didn't last for long. Within months, YouTube evolved into a hodgepodge of videos, featuring whatever random stuff people saw fit to upload. The slogan "Your Digital Video Repository" soon popped up beneath the now-familiar logo.

Getting Googled

The goulash-like approach worked wonders: by November of 2005, before YouTube had even officially launched, investors started pouring millions of dollars into the operation. The site opened its doors to the world that December, and less than a year later, Google came calling.

In October 2006, Google announced it was paying a cool $1.65bn to snatch up YouTube - the search giant's most expensive purchase ever made at that point. A comment on PC Advisor sister website PC World's story about the acquisition provides some amusing context to the deal:

"Google is looking for its second act. However, the second act will require more storage and processing power than we have ever seen."

YouTube, In Video

We could talk all day about YouTube's triumphs, trials, and tribulations. But wouldn't it be far more fitting to wrap things up with some shakily shot, user-created video?

The YouTube team itself uploaded a 'Making of YouTube' clip that shows memories from the company's early years and its transition into Googledom.

And a university anthropology class created a 'History of YouTube' special that takes a walk down YouTube's first two years. It's complete with cheesy music and a sappy ending that'll leave you inspired... to hit the stop the button.

See also:

Got a suggestion of a fun video clip for our Time-Wasting Friday blog? Email letters@pcadvisor.co.uk

YouTube to offer film rentals

YouTube UK agrees landmark music video deal

Blog: Five requests for YouTube film rentals

PC World

IDG UK Sites

Top 5 Android tips and tricks for smartphones and tablets

IDG UK Sites

How to join Apple's OS X Beta Seed Program: Get OS X Yosemite on your Mac before public release

IDG UK Sites

Why the BBC iPlayer outage was caused by a DDoS attack: Topsy and Tim isn't *that* popular

IDG UK Sites

BBC using Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to trial 4K/UHD, pan-around video, augmented video and...