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A Throwback to Early YouTube: What Is the First Video Uploaded to the Platform?

Published August 11, 2023

With over 2.1 billion active monthly users and over 800 million videos available on the website, YouTube is among the largest social media platforms in the world. The numbers associated with YouTube are huge — 3.7 million new videos are uploaded daily, seven channels have reached over 100 million subscribers, and the richest YouTuber likely earns around $54 million a year. In other words, the platform isn’t just a space for creative expression; it also allows users to build a successful career.

However, YouTube wasn’t always the incredibly influential social media giant it is today. In fact, upon its launch in 2005, no one could have imagined that the small video-sharing platform would largely replace television and become a brand recognizable even among people who don’t use social media. Its content back then was short, unpolished, and filmed by people with little experience in editing and video creation.

Perhaps the best representative of early YouTube content is the very first video uploaded on the platform. If you’ve never seen or heard of this video, don’t worry — you’ll get an official introduction in this article. So, let’s take a look at this piece of YouTube’s history!

A Visit to the Zoo That Started It All

YouTube was launched on 14th February 2005, and two months later, on 24th April 2005, the first video was posted on the platform. This 19-second clip titled “Me at the Zoo” was made by Jawed Karim, one of the three co-founders of YouTube.

In the video, Karim visits the San Diego Zoo and films himself in front of elephants that, according to him, have “really, really, really long trunks.” After concluding that that’s cool, Karim ends the video without asking for likes or subscribers. In fact, it’s all very simple and to the point.

As it turns out, Karim was not interested in pursuing a YouTube career after this first video. If you visit his channel, jawed, you’ll see that he hasn’t uploaded anything else in the eighteen years that have passed since. Still, the channel has 3.71 million subscribers, and his only video has over 270 million views. Quite a feat for such a short clip!

Early Videos That Followed

Karim’s video opened the doors for many other creators who wanted to share their short clips with the world. In the following week, several more videos were uploaded, and there was no stopping YouTube’s growth after that. Let’s take a look at some of the oldest videos available on the platform that now make up a part of YouTube’s history.

1. My Snowboarding Skillz

A 10-second clip titled “My Snowboarding Skillzalmost got the title of the first-ever video uploaded to YouTube. In fact, it was posted on the same day as Karim’s video, only a few hours later.

As the title implies, the clip showcases a man, presumably the owner of the mw channel it’s posted on, on a snowboard. Rather than demonstrate impressive snowboarding skills, the man slides down the slope and unceremoniously falls. The video ends with him getting back up, ready to keep going.

2. Tribute

Next in line is “tribute,” a 5-second video uploaded by the user gp on 25th April — a day after history was made. Similarly to Karim and user mw, this creator hasn’t uploaded any other videos since.

Unlike the first two videos, which both have a fairly straightforward storyline, “tribute” is more difficult to comprehend. In the video, a man jumps up between two walls and screams, after which the cameraman laughs and says, “Very nice.” What exactly this is a tribute to, we may never know.

3. Premature Baldness

The first video on this list to be longer than one minute is also the fourth video ever uploaded on YouTube, called “Premature Baldness.” In the video, user paul decides to get his hair shaved in the street to see what he would look like once he loses it in the future. Contrary to expectations, he seems quite pleased with the result.

“Premature Baldness” is also worth mentioning because it’s the first video to feature editing — music plays throughout the clip, and it’s impossible not to take note of creative transitions. As a result, this 2-minute video firmly cements itself as an important milestone in YouTube’s history.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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