Working on a two day course on Social Networks and Business today and thought the following bit of collated research might be of interest.

Thanks must go to @barstep for the reminder of Amateur Radio, but please do add further suggestions in the comments as this isn’t very complete and is of a length to fit on a Power Point slide. Dates are via Wikipedia, and so thoroughly contestable, but the point I’m trying to show in the course is that technology driven social networks are older than you may think.

A very rough history of technology driven social networks

1900s: Amateur (Ham) Radio
1940s: Citizen Broadcast (CB) Radio
1960s: Origins of the internet (a system of computer networks)
1979: Usenet (a message board system)
1980s: Message boards, Compuserve
1989: Beginnings of the WWW
1993: CERN makes the web free, launch of the Mosaic browser
1994: First blogs appear, launch of Geocities
1996: Classmates– one of the first recognisable social networks
1998: Yahoo! Groups launches
1999: The blogging platforms Live Journal and Blogger launch
2000: Friends Reunited and DeviantArt launch
2003: WAYN, LinkedIn and MySpace launch
2004: Flickr, Orkut, Tagged and Facebook launch
2005: Bebo and Ning launch
2006: Twitter

UPDATE 27/09/2009: Via Alessandro Piana Bianco
– (1997)
– (1999)
– (2004)

UPDATE 28/09/2009: I of course forgot to mention…
2003: Second Life
2005: YouTube


  1. Very good! seems strange to see a list of all this innovation and improvement only to realise that rural areas like ours still rely on carrier pigeon and CB radios to keep the farmers in touch when they are out in the fields. No broadband, no mobile and no coverage around here, and in many areas of Lancs and Cumbria. Just thought I would mention it. Again. (cos I know a lot of peeps read your blog). ;)
    Well done, its a good post.

    1. Thanks cyberdoyle, particularly for your insight via Twitter on Friday on how farmers in your area use CB Radio, thought that was fascinating.
      I also realised after posting the above how I hadn’t mentioned anything about mobile phone technology.

  2. Another date to add you won’t find anywhere else, I suppose. In 1991, I watched a download on the newly upgraded Internet backbone. It had just been upgraded to 1.5 Mbps. I guess that was a step in the direction of support for broadband access.

    1. … And together with uploading its something many of us (although not everyone, as cyberdoyle and you both attest) take for granted in our everyday online social network interactions. Thanks John.

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