YouTube's first-ever video upload turns 15 years old


Let’s rewind to simpler times, back when TikTok was a sound a clock made and there were only four “Harry Potter” movies.

It was 2005. Juicy Couture tracksuits were at their peak, everyone was wearing at least three polo shirts at once and arms were covered in Livestrong bracelets.

In February of that very year, three former Paypal employees — Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim — launched YouTube, a platform they hoped would be the video equivalent to popular photo-sharing sites Photobucket and Flickr.

On April 23, 2005, two months after YouTube was created and about a month before its public beta launch, Karim posted an 18-second video called “Me at the zoo.”

26-year-old Karim’s grainy early vlog of his day at the San Diego Zoo now has over 90 million views and is credited for being the model for what the trio hoped YouTube could become: A site where people could share homemade videos of moments from their lives, regardless of whether or not they were actually interesting.

“Me at the zoo” is by no means a groundbreaking piece of cinematography, but it did introduce the idea of quick, bite-sized media consumption. It revolutionized how people wanted to consume news and information — as quickly as possible.

The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2016 that “Me at the zoo” “played a pivotal role in fundamentally altering how people consumed media and helped usher in a golden era of the 60-second video.”

Five months later, a Nike ad that had been posted on YouTube hit one million views and was the first video on the platform to do so. By the end of 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion.

Throughout 2006 — before VEVO and official channels existed — bootleg-filmed music videos and clips from late-night TV shows dominated the top videos on YouTube.

The most popular original YouTube video in 2006 was called “Pokemon Theme Music Video” with over 8 million views.

The video’s popularity was eclipsed by “Evolution of Dance” in August 2006. “Evolution of Dance” was the most-watched video on YouTube until March 2008.

Special shoutout to “Shoes,” the first YouTube video I ever watched, and the seventh most popular video on YouTube in the summer of 2008.

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Originally published