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A Short History Of The Social Network

Updated on August 8, 2010

A Short History Of The Social Network

 Before the dawn of history, a few cavemen got together and decided to cooperate for their mutual benefit and safety from the dangers the world held for them.  This was the beginning of the history of social networking.  As time passed these groups became tribes, then villages, states and countries – all with the same aim of benefiting from their association.  Within these evolving social structures smaller groups of guilds, fraternities  and brotherhoods – that exist today in the form of Freemasons, Rotarians and others – with more closely aligned interests came into being.

 All these groups were limited by their geographical proximity – a limitation that disappeared with the arrival of the internet.  Modern networking, as we know it, began in the early part of the 1980s with the creation of Bulletin Board Services (BBS).  These BBS were operated by hobbyists who used them to promote their own interests and agendas.  Slow (at that time most computers had only dial up connections) and with only text posting available, these crude – by today’s standards – services were the beginning of modern social networking.

 Soon after the BBS came a service that was created to allow businesses to share information and access the news – CompuServe.  CompuServe had one great innovation – it allowed users to send electronic messages to one another – the beginnings of easily accessed email.  CompuServe became very popular and soon outgrew the limited business applications and went into the public domain, providing access to thousands of forums on a range of subjects to any who had a modem and phone line.  America Online (AOL) soon appeared and offered members the facility of creating their own communities and searchable member profiles – innovation that left CompuServe far behind.

 AOL was followed by Yahoo and even more user friendly features but it was Classmates.com (still in existence) that set up the first social network site as we have come to understand the term.  This service offered not just communities but the facility of locating and contacting long lost school friends.  The concept caught on rapidly and the next stage was subject or demographic specific networking services like AsianAvenues.com that promoted networking among people with Asian interests and origins.  From here it was only a matter of time before the concept grew into large completely open social networking sites that allowed millions of members to search, find and link up with both old friends and business associates as well as new ones that could be met online.  The latest stage in social networking history is Twitter that allows for instant networking among groups but the future promises many more innovations to take the history of social networking forward.

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