The 11 greatest internet firsts

The web's biggest landmarks and milestones, from email to Twitter...

Remember when Twitter came into being? Or perhaps the millennium bug? The internet has truly evolved into something unrecognisable from its origins, T3 looks at its defining moments

Today (March 21st) marks the fifth anniversary of the first ever tweet. Time has flown by, 140 characters at a time, and Twitter is now the 190-million-strong social networking institution that we all know and tolerate. But what of other web firsts? Join us as we celebrate the big leaps forward that made the internet what it is today...

1. Online Virus, 1971
Engineer Bob Thomas is “credited”, if that’s the right word, with creating and deploying the first self-replicating computer virus. The Creeper smashed through the Arpanet system, harmlessly displaying the onscreen message “I’m the Creeper: catch me if you can.” Scary stuff.

2. Anti-Virus software, 1971
The purpose-built Reaper eradicated the above.

3. Domain name, March 15th, 1985
While, registered in Sweden in 1983, was the first URL, the first domain registered using today’s system was - a short-lived computer manufacturer.

4. Search engine, 1991
While working at McGill University, Alan Emtage took it upon himself to build a search system. Calling it “Archie”, he set it to run in the evenings, sorting the burgeoning web into a manageable database. “By 1991,” he recalls, “it was using half the bandwidth of eastern Canada.”

5. Online Store, 1994
Bizarrely, the first commercially available items on the net were pizzas. Pizza Hut began offering online ordering in 1994, aided by two new technologies: the Netscape 1.0 browser and SSL encryption, which secured online purchases.

6. Item sold on eBay, 1995
The first item to list on what was then known as AuctionWeb was a broken laser pointer, which fetched a princely $14.83 (£9.50). No doubt wary of 100% negative feedback, seller and company founder Pierre Omidyar contacted the buyer to reiterate that the pointer was non-functioning only to be told, “I’m a collector of broken laser pointers.”

7. Blog, Jauary 1996
The first and foremost example of a “web-log” belonged to Chicago’s Justin Hall, who started the influential Justin’s Links from the Underground. It’s all still online at

8. Wikipedia entry, January 15th, 2001
Founder Jimmy Wales published “Hello World!” on the day the online encyclopaedia opened its doors. The first Wiki entry to go up that’s still live is on American philosopher William Alston, attracting passionate debate since January 17 2001.

9. Youtube Video, April 23rd, 2003
Youtube co-founder Jawed Karim kicked it all off with his non-Oscar-nominated short Me at the Zoo, which was about him, at the zoo.

10. Story, March 3rd, 2004
A story about Nintendo’s then upcoming DS allowed the young to wax lyrical/incomprehensible. Apparently, not gifting the handheld console wireless multiplayer would be, “disingenuous even by Nintendo’s enigmatic standards.” It was true then and it’s true now.

11. Tweet, March 21st, 2006
Co-founder Jack Dorsey launched the microblogging site with “Just setting up my twittr”, setting the text-speak trend from the off.