Twitter’s 13 All-Time Most Epic Tweets (And The Stories Behind Them)

In its 5-year history Twitter has accomplished a heck of a lot. Because the platform has been so readily adopted on computers and (especially) mobile handsets around the world, Twitter is so often right there at life’s important moments, which are then quickly documented with a tweet.

And at other times, tweets are used to provide follow-up information, commentary and even apologies. And with the network’s 250+ million users, that news gets shared (and re-shared) at an incredible pace.

Here, in chronological order, are 13 of Twitter’s all-time most epic tweets, and the stories behind them.

“Just setting up my twttr.” ~ Jack Dorsey, March 21, 2006

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s tweet is important for many reasons. Even though the platform wasn’t yet open to the public, Dorsey’s message was the first proper tweet to be sent through Twitter (it’s status ID of 20 is deceptive – the previous 19 tweets are all blanks), and came from a time when the service was still known as Twttr. Vowels were added a few months later.

“Arrested.” ~ James Buck, April 10, 2008

This one-word tweet sent by student James Buck on his cellphone was enough to get him out of an Egyptian jail. Buck, a graduate from UC Berkeley, was in Egypt in April 2008 reporting on an anti-government protest when he was arrested alongside his translator. Buck sent the tweet on his way to the station, which quickly reached his 48 followers, many of whom were friends and contacts in the States, which set off a chain of events that led to his college hiring a lawyer on his behalf. He was released the next day.

“Are you ready to celebrate? Well, get ready: We have ICE!!!!! Yes, ICE, *WATER ICE* on Mars! w00t!!! Best day ever!!” ~ Mars Phoenix, June 20, 2008

On May 25, 2008, the Phoenix lander, a robotic spacecraft, descended on Mars. It’s mission: to find evidence of water, to determine Mars’ potential as an environment for life. And that’s exactly what it did. On June 19, 2008, NASA announced that the vaporization of material unearthed by the lander strongly implied that they were composed of water ice, which sublimated following exposure. The excitable tweet was sent out the next day.

“We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you. Thanks.” ~ President Barack Obama, November 5, 2008

Barack Obama’s tweet came on the day that he won the 2008 United States presidential election, becoming the first African American to be elected President of the USA. Obama made great use of social media during his campaign and has continued to be an advocate of Twitter – he resumed tweeting personally back in June of this year.

“There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” ~ Janis Krums, January 15, 2009

Janis Krums message and world-famous photograph was perhaps the one tweet that put Twitter on the map, as this at-the-scene documentation of the Hudson plane landing made the world aware of Twitter’s power and importance as a medium for sharing information about major events, right as they were happening. Perhaps more significantly, the news (and image) was coming from regular people – not the mainstream media.

“HI TWITTERS . THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOME. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY.” ~ Oprah Winfrey, April 17, 2009

Oprah Winfrey’s arrival on Twitter was a highly-celebrated event – at the time she was one of the first truly major celebrities to sign up for a profile on the platform. Oprah has long-been eclipsed on Twitter by many other famous names in the entertainment business, but her approval – which was accompanied by an appearance from the Twitter co-founders on her show – opened the door for some equally big names to get onboard. And Twitter hasn’t looked back since.