The History of Social Media from 1978 – 2012 [Infographic]

Did you know that before Facebook or MySpace – and even before Friendster – there was a social network called Friends Reunited? This infographic from contains this and other factoids from over 30 years of online social networking.

The timeline stretches all the way back to 1978, when Ward Christensen and Randy Suess created the first computerized bulletin board system (CBBS) to make announcements and plan meetups with friends; and continues through the Facebook IPO in 2012.  While many of the milestones will sound familiar, some of them are worth a second look on Wikipedia, like the virtual reality game Second Life. Take a look and see if there are any other companies or milestones you would add to the list. (If you’re having to squint to read the infographic, there’s a transcript available at the bottom of this post.)

Infographic by

Image by violetkaipa via Shutterstock

– Ward Christensen and Randy Suess, two computer fans, invented the CBBS system to inform their friends about meetings, make announcements and share information.

– Several students from the University of Illinois developed Mosaic, which was presented as the first browser adapted to the general public.
– Launch of GeoCities, a service that allows users to create their own web pages.

– The Web has one million websites.

– GeoCities surpasses one million users.
– AOL Instant Messenger allows Internet chat.
– Blogging begins.
– Google launches.

– GeoCities goes public.
– Friends Reunited, the first social network to become popular among Internet users, was founded in the UK to find old school mates.
– Yahoo! buys GeoCities for 3.57 billion dollars.
– The Blogger platform launches.
– The dotcom bubble burst and the future of Internet is more uncertain than ever.

– 70 million computers are connected to the Internet.
– Friendster launches. The social network reaches 3 million users in just three months.
– AOL has already reached 34 million users.
– MySpace is launched.

– Google buys the Blogger platform.
– Second Life launches.
– LinkedIn launches social network for professionals.

– Facebook is born. An unknown investor offers Mark Zuckerberg $10 million to buy the famous social network. Facebook founder declines the offer.
– MySpace surpasses Friendster in number of page views.
– Digg launches.
– Bebo – an acronym for blog early, blog often – launches as another social networking site.

– News Corp. buys MySpace for $580 million.
– Viacom offers to buy Facebook for $75 million, but the social network rejects the offer.
– Friends Reunited, which already has 15 million users, is sold to the ITV television network.
– YouTube is launched.
– MySpace is the most popular social network in the U.S..

– Viacom returns with an offer to to buy Facebook for $1.5 billion, but the deal falls through. Yahoo! also made an offer of $1 billion to take over the social network, but Facebook declined.
– Google generates about 400 million searches every day.
– Twitter is born.

– Facebook surpasses MySpace in number of unique users per month.
– Google makes an offer of 15 billion dollars to buy Facebook.
– Apple introduces the iPhone.

– Facebook is now the largest social network worldwide with over 200 million users. The social network’s traffic is twice that of MySpace.
– AOL buys Bebo.
– Facebook tries to buy Twitter for 500 million dollars.
– Tumblr launches.

– Twitter breaks the news of a plane crash in the Hudson River.
– “Unfriend” is the New Oxford Dictionary word of the year.
– Microsoft launches Bing to compete directly with Yahoo and Google.
– Facebook surpasses 400 million users, and also surpasses Google in weekly traffic.
– MySpace loses its popularity and the number of users shrinks to 57 million.