Facebook, which once went by the name “Facemash” in its early dorm-room development stages, started as a means of determining who at Harvard University was considered “hot,” and who was “not.” By compiling a list of student IDs with the best hacking skills a college education can buy, Zuckerberg made an extensive directory of face comparisons and attracted 450 on-campus site visitors in the span of four hours – quite the feat for the time period, and the foundation for what would later attract hundreds of millions of users years later.
After facing expulsion hearings at Harvard and pushing forward his concept through a class project, Zuckerberg expanded his Facemash trend by putting together code for what had been re-branded as “The Facebook.” Still intended as a college-exclusive site, The Facebook launched in 2004 and garnered an estimated 1,500 users within a day of its unveiling.
But as has been popularly articulated through the 2010, Academy Award-winning film “The Social Network,” Zuckerberg’s creation did not come without controversy. Cameran and Tyler Winklevoss – commonly known simply as “The Winklevoss Twins” – alleged that Zuckerberg misled them into believing he would be working with them on a site entitled “Harvard Connection,” instead using their ideas to craft The Facebook. The story went viral on Harvard’s campus, and eventually led the pair to pursue a lawsuit, which was quickly quelled through settlement.
In 2005, Facebook arrived sans the “the” through a domain name purchase amounting to the sum of $200,000, and by the end of year had expanded to other universities across the globe, effectively limiting outside use by only allowing others to use the service through invites. It wasn’t until October 2006 that Facebook opened to all interested users age 13 and older, beginning the wildfire rise in membership that would ensue.
Zuckerberg’s efforts have since resulted in Facebook becoming the largest aggregate collection of photos on the Web, the most visited social media site, and the host of 900 million unique users as of 2012. Facebook has evolved from a small operation university site, to a global juggernaut that has grown increasingly attractive to advertisers and, of course, any and every average Joe looking to keep in touch with friends and family.
On May 17, 2012, Facebook went public, setting a precedent as the first social media site to do so and placing its name alongside the big-game Wall Street behemoths like Amazon, McDonald’s, and more.
Of course, time alone will tell whether Facebook can keep such good graces.
Image Credit: 1.