Five years ago today, a PayPal employee named Jawed Karim uploaded the very first video onto YouTube.
Lasting 19 seconds, ‘Me at the zoo‘ features Karim standing outside the elephant enclosure saying, “All right so here we are, in front of the elephants, and the cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks. And that’s cool. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
But that wasn’t all there was to say. Together with his co-workers and partners Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, Karim watched YouTube quickly become an internet phenomenon, allowing anyone with a video camera to upload their home movies onto the web and broadcast themselves for all to see.
YouTube has given the world funky first-dance wedding videos, Keyboard Cat, the Numa Numa song and more recently Crystal Swing. It also made an international sensation of Susan Boyle, after her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, and gave Sandi Thom a No 1 hit with a song she recorded in her bedroom. Now all major organisations, from The White House to the Vatican, have their own YouTube channel.
The video-sharing site has caused plenty of controversy over the years, and has been banned at various times in China, Pakistan, Libya, Morocco, Iran, Turkey and Thailand. It has also been accused of copyright infringement, most recently in the case of the many Hitler parody memes from the film Downfall, which the site has been asked to remove.
YouTube by numbers
$1.65bn – what Google paid for the site in 2006
91,214,703 – views of Susan Boyle’s first performance on Britain’s Got Talent
6,689,997 – views of Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat
14 – number of languages the site is available in
More than 1bn – number of views YouTube receives per day
By Deirdre Nolan