Social Media

The Concept and History of the Emergence of Social Media

The Concept and History of the Emergence of Social Media

Today, we are surrounded by information everywhere. In the mass media, the news feed is updated every minute, and every new day brings its own sensations. What was mega-news yesterday morning may not be advertised at all tomorrow.

When there is too much information, it is not only quickly forgotten, but also blurs our value orientations. We stop empathizing with victims of disasters because we lose the ability to analyze data. We are no longer physically able (at least minimally) to check every news we read. That is why we succumb to manipulation and believe fakes.

History: Where it All Began

The term “social media” was introduced in 1954 by the sociologist from the “Manchester School” James Barnes in the work “Classes and assemblies in a Norwegian island parish”, which was included in the collection “Human relations”. He developed and supplemented the approach invented in the 1930s to the study of relationships between people using sociograms. However, the idea of a social network as a structure whose elements are actors (individuals or organizations) was predicted by scientists as early as the late eighties – the French sociologist David Emile Durkheim and his German colleague Ferdinand Tenis practically described the nature of this phenomena in their theories and studies of social groups.

The site Classmates, which appeared in 1995, is considered to be the first social network in the modern sense of the term. It was created by Randy Conrad, an engineer at Boeing, who really wanted to find his classmate. However, the American service for classmates for a long time did not support the creation of personal pages (profiles) and the addition of friends, it was limited to the possibility of connecting a person with his educational institution and searching by the list of people who studied at the same school, so there is another opinion on the topic of what social network considered the first.

Researchers single out among others the dating site, created in 1997. This resource existed only until 2000. Today, so that this does not happen, there are companies that help in development, for example, WeSoftYou.

This site is made special by a number of tools that allow users to create personal pages, add friends, and since 1998 search the pages of friends. Although at that time many well-known dating sites and sites that united representatives of the same community offered similar services separately.

The history of the transition of social networks from offline to online and their further development on a new platform precedes the creation of such modern-day services on the World Wide Web.

The Concept and History of the Emergence of Social Media

The Era is Offline

In the offline era, people actively used another network for communication – the telephone network. It was in her and thanks to her that social networks were born. Therefore, the “Era of telephone hackers” (the 1950s – early 1990s) can be considered the first stage of their formation.

Offline networks went online as personal computers and modems spread. The first stage of the transition is logically associated with the period of widespread distribution of electronic bulletin boards (Bulletin Board Systems) (1979-1995). These are sites where you could post your ad and read the ads of other users. They had message sections where discussions took place, the possibility of downloading files, and even online games – in short, they really had a lot in common with modern social networks. The first such site appeared in public access in 1979.

In the same period, the international amateur computer network “FidoNet” appeared, which is also sometimes called the first social network. It was created by the American programmer Tom Jennings in 1984 and served to transmit messages from electronic bulletin boards to each other.

The next step of the social network from its origins to its present state was the emergence and spread of commercial online services on the Internet (1979-2001), which brought the interactive and social Internet to the masses.

After the appearance of the World Wide Web in 1991, the Usenet system was first popular – a computer network used for communication and file publication. It appeared in 1980, that is, before the appearance of the World Wide Web. However, soon both it and electronic bulletin boards could not withstand the competition with the states that were gaining popularity with forums. And at the same time, the first social networks of an almost modern format began to appear.


The understanding of the social network has certainly changed since then, a considerable role in this was played by the development of technologies, thanks to which online networks appeared. From that moment to today, many social networks have been created, and some of them marked the stages of change of the social network as a phenomenon.

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About the author



Tom is a gizmo-savvy guy, who has a tendency to get pulled into the nitty gritty details of technology. He attended UT Austin, where he studied Information Science. He’s married and has three kids, one dog and 2 cats. With a large family, he still finds time to share tips and tricks on phones, tablets, wearables and more. You won’t see Tom anywhere without his ANC headphones and the latest smartphone. Oh, and he happens to be an Android guy, who also has a deep appreciation for iOS.