1st Step

“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision un-borrowed, and the response they received — hatred.

The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of un-borrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.”

(From Fountainhead by Ayn Rand)

One of my favorite quotes too.

Anyway….on this page we go behind the scenes and to the earliest origins of famous websites and blogs. This is just a fun exercise but extremely enlightening. If you are ever crippled by self doubt and perfectionism and procrastination then you’ll find much here to get inspired.

Thing is…

Everyone starts at ZERO.

All first steps are wobbly and uncertain. And that’s what makes this journey exciting and rewarding.

Let’s begin…

imgur

Alexa Traffic Rank: 77

1st Screenshot by a Web Bot: 25 Feb 2009

imgur - first screenshot

I must say, for a world’s top 100 website, the first step of imgur is quite steady.

And it’s not common. Well done.

Just have a look at the steady rise of traffic over the decade. 

That, again, is extremely rare. 

As you can see below, most website journeys are highs and lows (mostly lows) of traffic spikes. 

Amazon

Alexa Traffic Rank: 14 

1st screenshot by web bot (Dated Aug 28 1999)

Amazon 1st shot

Despite early glitches and lots of up and downs, Amazon prevailed and made Jeff Bezos the richest man on planet earth today.

Google

Alexa Traffic Rank: 1st

First Screenshot on 11 November 1998

Twitter

Alexa Rank: 52

First Screenshot: 2 March 2001

At least they had the color palette figured out on almost right lines : )

Instagram

Alexa Rank: 30

First Screenshot: 5 Sep 2004

And their first screenshot tells us that they were going in some completely different direction that what they are now.

Here’s how they looked like…

So don’t loose heart if you haven’t yet figured out what’s your “calling”.

Just do the work.

You can even check if your next bright idea is still possible.

Check your personal or business name availability below…

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Facebook

Alexa Traffic Rank: 4

1st Screenshot: 12 Dec 1998

Facebook 1st Screenshot
Facebook started as aboutface.com

Yes, Facebook started as aboutface.com

You can read the whole story here in this fascinating account by David Kirkpatrick.

It’s titled: The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World

Yahoo

Alexa Traffic Rank: 12

First Screenshot: 20 Nov 1996

Now, Yahoo is one of the oldest beast on Web.

A real powerhouse that has refused to die down despite multiple doomsday predictions, crisis and pivots.

Yahoo 1st Image

You can clearly see the early stumbles and barren patches in traffic in late 90s.

But once they got going, there was no stopping them.

YouTube

Who doesn’t know about YouTube. We all love it. Source of everything under the sun that humans have put their nose into.

Alexa Traffic Rank: 2

First Screenshot by a Web Bot: 28 Apr 2005

YouTube 1st Shot

Wikipedia

Alexa Traffic Rank: 13

First Screenshot by a Web Bot: Jul 27 2001

Wikipedia 1st Shot

Looks well organized and on their way to competing with titans of Internet. As someone once put it online, “Rise of Wikipedia gives me hope that humanity may still save itself.” I agree, but with a healthy serving of skepticism.

Reddit

And now one of THE most famous sites that’s run, managed and guarded like a classic cult.

Our very own, reddit.com

Alexa Traffic Rank: 20

First Screenshot by a Web Bot: July 18 2002

It seems when the bots first arrived on “the front page of the Internet”, as the site calls itself, there was, well, nothing.

Then there are almost 3 years when bots never thought this site is even worth visiting at all.

And then the bots had to make multiple, daily, calls.

And rest as they say is history.

Reddit First Screenshot

Netflix

Alexa Traffic Rank: 21

First Screenshot by Web Bot: Jan 17 1999

Notice the initial lean years. Without any traction whatsoever. But they persisted.

First Screenshot by Bot

CNN

Alexa Traffic Rank: 79

First Screenshot by a Web Bot: August 15 2000

Though the famous news channel, a household name had been operating since 1980, what took them so long to enter into the Internet is a strange thing.

After all, being privy to all things future and breaking new grounds etc, they should have been here a lot early.

Anyway…Don’t let that happen to your dream by the way.

Check availability of your personal or business name right here

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Ok, now back to CNN.

Here’s the first web crawl as available on Internet Archives.

CNN First Screenshot

Microsoft

Alexa Traffic Rank: 24

First Screenshot by Web Bot: Oct 20 1996

Microsoft First Screenshot

Quite naturally, they were early adopters.

And even then…they had almost zero traction for initial 3 years.

Feel inspired? Take this lesson home: all good things take time to build.

Keep at it. Trust the process not the events.

Moving onward…

Blogger

Ah, the famous blogger.

The site that taught blogging to millions and yet stayed as a second tier laggard to their fierce rival wordpress.com

Never mind. That’s a whole new discussion reserved for another day and worthy of a complete page or blog post.

For now, let’s see their first steps.

Alexa Traffic Rank: 221

First Screenshot by a Web Bot: Oct 12 1999

Blogger.com-First-screenshot-by-Web-Bot

Whatsapp

The famous app made by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, the former employees of Yahoo.

The fact that Brian Acton was rejected by both Twitter and Facebook for a job makes the story all the more sweet.

You can read the now famous announcements here.

Alexa Traffic Rank: 71

First Screenshot by Web Bot: Jan 24 2009

(And it reads frighteningly like the bulk of Internet. Hello World. This is your first post. Edit or delete it. Then start blogging!)

Whatsapp first web screenshot

Again, this page above is a testament against the fallacy that great companies are some overnight success.

Same for humans, causes or anything worthwhile in life.

The viral mindset is not only dumb it maybe robbing you of your actual potential. The dull, without fireworks ability to FOCUS and just do the work.

While you are here, you’ll do well to see this great video by Todd Brown, an Internet marketers who drives down this critical linchpin of all success in a simple 6 minute video.

A must re-watch. (reminder to self)