Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Anchored by Melissa Bell  |  About  |  Get Updates:  Twitter  |   Facebook  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

'The Facebook literally took me a week to make': Looking at the early days of the social network

By Eric Athas
height
A file photo of thefacebook.com. (Juana Arias/The Washington Post)

Exactly seven years ago Friday -- before Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire and Time's Person of the Year, "The Social Network" was nominated for eight Academy Awards, Facebook had 500 million users and was valued at $50 billion -- Facebook was launched by students in a Harvard University dormitory room.

The Harvard Crimson -- Harvard's student-run newspaper -- chronicled the company's growth from Day 1. Ever heard of a Facebook feature called Wirehog? Did you know Columbia University students attempted to "Google-Bomb" Facebook? Or that Zuckerberg apparently once read "C++ For Dummies"? I dug through the online archives of the Crimson and came up with what I believe are the 10 most interesting articles from the early days of the social network.

10. "I'm not coming back."

(Nov. 1, 2005) -- Zuckerberg returned to the Harvard campus to recruit students for his company and to say he was leaving for good. He said his company was humble -- he was making just $65,000 a year -- but (and this is a big but in hindsight) employees would also receive company stock.

9. "Any CS50 questions?"

(Dec. 8, 2005) -- Shortly after dropping out and moving to Palo Alto, Calif., Zuckerberg returned to Harvard to give a talk to a computer science class. "We're focusing not on building something and how to make money out of it but, instead, always looking to maximize the long-term value," Zuckerberg told the class. Longterm value? Like a $50 billion valuation?

8. "Some paint, some sing -- he Facebooks. It just comes naturally."

(Feb. 17, 2005) -- There was another student at Harvard who spent a lot of time on Facebook. But this student wasn't a co-founder or anything. He just spent a lot of time using Facebook, or The Facebook as it was first called. Bryan A. Haut made it into the Crimson because he was a member of 1,100 groups.

7. "Poking aside, both are Friendster knockoffs made unique by their exclusivity."

(Sept. 15, 2004) -- The legal battle between Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, Divya Narendra and Mark Zuckerberg is well documented. But before it really heated up, the Crimson tried to cool it down with an editorial that said "It's time for the cyber-networking-clone wars to stop." I guess it wasn't persuasive enough as the Winklevoss twins are still battling Zuckerberg.

height
Tyler Winklevoss, left, and Cameron Winklevoss, right, and Divya Narendra in 2007. (Associated Press)

6. "I'm a bit curious to see if Mark's website is a short-term phenomenon."

(Feb. 18, 2004) -- At this point in the company's lifespan, Zuckerberg said he had "no idea why it's so popular." Just weeks after Facebook launched, it had reeled in 4,300 members on the Cambridge, Mass., campus. Students were clearly hooked -- although one was skeptical of its potential as a longterm social network.

5. "The Facebook literally took me a week to make."

(June 10, 2004) -- Four months later, Facebook hit the 160,000-users mark. The site was receiving national recognition and Zuckerberg had already made his television debut on CNBC. A profile on Zuckerberg reveals a lot of gems, including the fact that Zuckerberg once studied from "C++ For Dummies" and that Facebook "almost didn't happen:


4. "I need to think of something to occupy my mind. Easy enough -- now I just need an idea..."

(Nov. 4, 2003) -- The first 20 minutes of the film "The Social Network" depicted Zuckerberg's creation of facemash.com, a hotornot.com-like Harvard site that was an overnight hit on campus and got the college freshman into hot water. The short-lived venture was built as Zuckerberg simultaneously blogged about it. "Let the hacking begin," he wrote around 1 a.m.

3. "I think Wirehog will probably spread in the same way that thefacebook did."

(Oct. 20, 2004) -- As Facebook passed the 500,000-member mark, Zuckerberg rolled out a new project called Wirehog. "The program, named Wirehog, allows digital 'friends' to connect to each other's computers and download files, from documents to music to movies."

2. "Somebody ought to Google-Bomb The Facebook and knock them into Google obscurity."

(March 9, 2004) -- As Facebook exploded on campuses across the country, Columbia University students tried to stage a "cyber-revolution" against Facebook because they felt it was encroaching on their own site called CUcommunity. One student was "pretty annoyed by thefacebook.com's attempt to rip off CUcommunity's idea and usurp our online community." I don't think the Google-Bomb worked.

height
May 26, 2010 photo of Zuckerberg. (Associated Press)

1. "I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week."

(Feb. 9, 2004) -- Virtually every move Mark Zuckerberg makes these days gets covered worldwide. He has appeared on "60 Minutes", "The Oprah Winfrey Show", and recently Saturday Night Live. In the first article ever written about Facebook, Zuckerberg said "that he did not create the Web site with the intention of generating revenue." At this point, Facebook had 650 members.

More links on the early days of Facebook:
-We asked our Facebook friends: What do you think your status update would have been -- 7 years ago?

-The raw blog entries from when Zuckerberg was creating Facemash.

-A March 2004 story on how "Thefacebook.com craze has swept through campus" at Stanford University.
-A Read Write Web article detailing how Zuckerberg's high school days contributed to the founding of Facebook.
-A Business Insider piece on how Zuckerberg allegedly hacked the Crimson.
-A May 26, 2010 article from TechCrunch titled "Wirehog, Zuckerberg's Side Project That Almost Killed Facebook."
-Washington Post's "Five Myths" about Facebook.
-Photos of Zuckerberg.

Do you remember the first time you used Facebook? How did you hear about it and why did you decide to join? Comment below!

By Eric Athas  | February 4, 2011; 10:17 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Kenneth Cole's Egypt tweet: The uproar ... and the inevitable fake Twitter account
Next: "Demand Al-Jazeera in the USA" campaign

Comments

Sometime early in 2004. I was a student at Virginia Tech. At that time there were only about 100 universities that had facebook and you could only create an account if you had .edu email acct.

Hard to believe I've been on FB for close to 7 yrs now.

Posted by: mebot | February 4, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I had heard about FB from my kids, but didn't give it much notice at first. (mainly because I didn't have an .edu email). After it was opened to all, I thought it would be a good way to "keep an eye" (read: Spy) on my college freshman son. Naturally, as my former AF collegues began to "friend" me, I began using it more, meeting more old friends that I had lost touch with and the cycle continues through today.

Posted by: shadeau | February 4, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Mark Zuckerberg is on a classic trajectory to become the next Emperor Caligula AKA the Beast and Antichrist in Revelation 13:16-18.
Sure, he's so innocuous looking, and wears a hoodie - Caligula started out as a cute boy wearing army boots. Flee the ZuckerBeast before it closes the trap!

http://boycottfacebookblog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: tlwinslow | February 4, 2011 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I was in my department's office. I had a myspace account and one of the department's assistants (later turned good friend) told me I had to have a Facebook account. I thought he was talking about the hardcopy book that contained the photos and bios of many of the new graduate students. He then walked me through the process of creating an account and he was my first friend. I didn't use it for months, but then I got hooked. When Facebook changed something, he would show me what to do..... sadly, a few years later I unfriended him...twice.

Posted by: SMAU | February 4, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I was in my department's office. I had a myspace account and one of the department's assistants (later turned good friend) told me I had to have a Facebook account. I thought he was talking about the hardcopy book that contained the photos and bios of many of the new graduate students. He then walked me through the process of creating an account and he was my first friend. I didn't use it for months, but then I got hooked. When Facebook changed something, he would show me what to do..... sadly, a few years later I unfriended him...twice.

Posted by: SMAU | February 4, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company