MySpace was the first social media site

The origins of social networks

Benj Edwards

Social networks existed before Facebook and even before MySpace. Here we show you how computers brought people together at the beginning of the Internet.

The first social networking site was SixDegrees.com, which went online in 1997. Friendster.com opened its doors five years later. This has led to the creation of social networks such as MySpace and Facebook.

But even before that time, people were using computers to communicate, but not in the way we are used to from today's social networks. In some cases, the social network was nothing more than a single computer that was used by people at different times. One person left a message on the computer in the morning, while the other person read it in the afternoon.

Since the social network pages are a fairly new phenomenon, we decided to dig a little deeper into the past in order to better examine the development of social networks. As an initial question, we first have to clarify what a social network actually is. For this guide we have defined it as a loose network of computers that can differentiate between different user accounts or profiles and that enables members to communicate with one another. In recent years the term "social network" has evolved to mean much more. If we use the definition above, you will see that such services have been around for a very long time.

Berkeley Community Memory (1972)

The world's first computer-controlled bulletin board actually worked like an ordinary bulletin board: you could leave messages on it and only the people in front of it could read them.

The inventors Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and Lee Felsenstein called this bulletin board "Community Memory." Users could sit in front of an ASR-33 teletypewriter located in Leopold's Records in Berkeley, California, and type or type in a text Read the message someone else left there. The first entries were about ethanol manufacturing, taxi ads, and questions like "Where can I get the best bagels in Berkeley".

The teletypewriter was connected to remote controlled XDS-940 time-share computers in San Francisco that were running normal software. Even though the news was limited to readers using the Berkeley terminal.

PLATO IV (1972)

PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations) was built in the early 1960s as a platform for people who wanted to learn remotely using a computer. But no school is complete without students complaining about their subjects and teachers. That is why the fourth edition of the PLATO project, published in 1972, led to the first online news board. PLATO Notes and the first multi-user chat system were released in 1973. Thanks to these innovations, PLATO was a good template for today's modern computerized social networks. PLATO was not dissimilar to our current networks.

Honk (1976)

In 1976, two students at Kansas University created an early bulletin board for the university's computers. They called the John Borak and Alexander Barket program "Honk". Basically, it worked the same way as Community Memory, so users could read and write other people's messages here too. These people had to be in close proximity, because it was limited to the university's Honeywell computers.