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As you ponder whether you’re willing pay $8 to $20 a month for a blue checkmark, it’s worth taking a minute to learn about the history of Twitter. The social network’s debut at SXSW 2007 is well known, but its origin story as the offshoot of a podcasting company is less so. Let’s dive into this week’s Tech Time Warp.

In November 2004, Evan Williams—creator of Blogger, which he had sold to Google—began developing podcasting software called Odeo with his former Google colleague Biz Stone and his neighbor Noah Glass. Along the way, Odeo hired a web designer named Jack Dorsey.

Just as Odeo was about to pick up steam in late summer 2005, Apple announced the creation of the iTunes podcasting platform, making Odeo’s offering largely irrelevant. The Odeo team began holding daylong hackathons so employees would brainstorm ideas for the next big thing.

Fascinated by text messaging, Dorsey proposed something capitalizing on what he called “status.” He envisioned a platform where users could text their latest update to 40404 and have it appear on a public website, much like the “away” messages they listed on instant messaging tools. Glass—whose name is frequently left out of Twitter origin stories, making him the Pete Best figure in this episode—came up with the name “Twttr.”

Soon, Odeo employees were maxing out their data plans using Twttr. Dorsey sent the first tweet March 21, 2006, and it was released to the publish in July 2006. Dorsey, Wiliams and Stone then bought out Odeo, turning it into Obvious Corp. to continue developing Twitter.

On July 15, 2006, Techcrunch.com published a review of Twitter from Michael Arrington: “There is also a privacy issue with Twttr. Every user has a public page that shows all of their messages. Messages from that person’s extended network are also public. I imagine most users are not going to want to have all of their Twttr messages published on a public website.”

Now that Twitter has 329 million users worldwide, including new owner Elon Musk, it’s safe to say Arrington was wrong.

Did you enjoy this installation of SmarterMSP’s Tech Time Warp? Check out others here.

Photo: Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash


Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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