How Did Twitter Start?

How Did Twitter Start?

Have you ever wondered “how did Twitter start”? There’s a pretty good account from a business perspective on the history of the evolution, or the development, of Twitter found on, written in 2011.

In this piece, by Nicholas Carlson and titled “The Real History of Twitter” a product named Odeo is described as being the beginning point of Twitter.

Odeo was originally a podcasting app. In the fall of 2005, Odeo had its direction changed by Apple, who announced that their iTunes would include a podcasting feature built into its iPod’s.

That, together with the realization by the Odeo co-founders, Noah Glass and Evan Williams, that they weren’t listening to podcasts as much as they thought they would be, led them to conclude that Odeo’s future was not to be in podcasting.

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The Hackathons

At the time, Odeo had an employee force of around 14 people, and they began scrambling to come up with ideas for a new direction for the company, holding “hackathons” and breaking off into groups for all-day project exploration and work.

Jack Dorsey came up with the idea for building a product revolving around what people were doing at a particular time, their “status”.

Jack Dorsey

His original concept was that of a system where you could send texts to one number and they would be broadcast to all your friends.

Noah Glass named it Twttr, and this is what eventually became Twitter.

The Vision

In February of 2006, Glass, Dorsey and Florian Weber, a German contract developer, presented Jack’s idea to the Odeo employees.

Although it is acknowledged that Twitter in concept came from Jack Dorsey, it is also held as truth that the vision for what it was and the passion to make it reality belonged mostly to Noah Glass.

The other Odeo employees described Noah as being fanatically excited about Twitter, and that other players at the time just weren’t at that same level of excitement.

There was a working Twitter prototype by March of 2006, and one of the early successes was the spread of the news of a small earthquake that shook San Francisco in August of that year…

By that fall, Twitter had thousands of users.

In the beginning, right after launched to the public, very few people understood its value. At that time, there was a per-text message cost, and people were wary that Twttr might run up their bills.

Not to mention no one really understood how to use Twttr, and had no concept of the impact it could have.

There was even an “incubator”, with Twttr as its sole project, just to foster its use – Obvious Corp was its name.

…This is Going to be Addictive

From another online piece, written by Mark Johnson and found on, are more interesting perspectives and substance to this story.

This account tells how Jack Dorsey (@Jack), Even Williams (@Ev), and Biz Stone (@Biz) probably did not know how popular Twitter would eventually become – because they were only looking to retool a dying company by finding a way to export and “mass-send” text messages from their cell phones.

Dom Sagolla (@Dom) tweeted out a prophetic “…this is going to be addictive” in the 38th tweet in March of 2006.

The definition of twitter is “to utter a succession of small, tremulous sounds, as a bird” and “to tremble with excitement or the like; be in a flutter”.

...this is going to be addictive

Twitter, the application, has grown in popularity over time, and is used by sports programs, businesses, entertainers, politicians, and … Well, by everyone, it seems.

I have to admit that I used to think Twitter was ridiculous, but that only demonstrates how ignorant and closed-minded I was when I thought that.

I’m an avid follower of college football, and at this time of year, I wouldn’t have any college football news to read at all if not for Twitter.

Football may have lured me in to Twitter, but now that I’m there, I enjoy keeping up with political commentary, entertainment trends, and the like.

There’s just something about the ability to send, and receive, links and other little snippets of information relevant at that very moment. It truly is addictive.

Now, of course, we all know about the twitterverse, tweeting, and the constant and current information brought to us by those 140-character microblogs.

Why are tweets limited to 140 characters?

Because text messages got truncated or split after 160 characters, and because they wanted to provide extra room for one’s username and other special characters.

People now will tell you their news gets to them first via Twitter – politics, sports, entertainment. You name it.

Businesses have certainly taken advantage of the fit between Twitter, other social media, and smartphones, so forth and so on – as a savvy way to advertise.

Twitter is a tool to reach target markets, to deploy customer service, to receive feedback and to generally have a big exposure for their products and services.

Today there are millions of users with of thousands of new users coming aboard the Twitter train daily.

Now that we know a little bit about “how did Twitter start”, it would serve us well to ponder “how can I benefit most” from Twitter, or “how can I best use” Twitter, or “what are some great ways to benefit from” Twitter?

Consider this tweet from @Jack in February of 2007: “One could change the world with one hundred and forty characters.”

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11 comments on “How Did Twitter Start?

  1. I always wondered how Twitter came to be. I am like you I used to think Twitter was silly but as I use it more and get comfortable with I can see it’s value.

    This was a great historical perspective of a very popular ap that I am sure people now days take for granted.

    Thanks for sharing how things can be invented out trying to create something else.

  2. These are some great pieces you put together here about the beginning times of Twitter. I never knew that Twitter was called Odeo. I learn something new everyday. Twitter has become a great source for advertisement for my business as well as I’m sure yours. Thank you for sharing this… something I never knew. Can’t wait to tell my boys!

  3. Chris, Thank you for history lesson. You know I still have not used twitter and I dont know why. It has been around for so long but then I just started texting on my phone. I am a late bloomer. After reading your article I feel I can’t put it off any longer. Thanks for the inspiration. I promise today I will start. Thanks again

  4. Very interesting article. I have never wondered how Twitter started. But knowing how it did is a incredible story. It is very interesting what came out of the Tech boom and the internet age. Facebook,Twitter, Instagram…

    I think it also shows us that life is an evolution. Keep on pushing and you never know what might happen.

    This sort of reminds me of the two guys that set up Google – humble beginnings and all that type of jive!

    This was a very enjoyable read, so glad I came across this unique article.


    1. Hi there,

      Yeah that Tech Boom period in time was pretty impressive wasn’t it mate? When you stop and think about how many billion dollar businesses were born in that period of time it really makes you wonder…if we”ll ever see a time like it again!

  5. thanks chris for the history many great ideas,but only a few actually ‘make it’, twitter being a survivor.i have not used twitter,or social media before,but as i’m getting into online marketing,learning about these social media programs is very to just figure out how i can use it….


    1. Hi Greg,

      Well it can be a pretty powerful marketing tool if you manage to use it in the correct manner. We have loads of social media marketing tutorials and articles on this site if you need any help? Check ’em out and send us a message if you get stuck with anything…

  6. This is good to know how Twitter started and I guess they didn’t know at the time how it would develop into the amazing social media platform it is today.

    I’m glad that I have got on to Twitter as it’s given me another area to promote my website but also to link up with other websites similar to mine and learn from them.

    I sometimes find that the limited message size can be a bit restrictive – do you think they will up this 140 character limit anytime soon? I can see a huge benefit if they moved it a small distance of say 60 characters to about 200!

    I also like the way it is so easy to reach beyond the web – it doesn’t screw with the memory on my smart phone and seems to be dynamic wherever I am in the world.

    I sometimes notice that the traffic from twitter doesn’t seem to dwindle mind – do you find that your bounce rates are pretty high with traffic from twitter?

    Great article – really interesting read!

    1. Hi Adrian,

      I guess even a small change in the platform would take a huge amount of re-coding at the end of the day. Even something like a jump up of 60 characters will be a huge change really when you think about it?

      Personally, I don’t think they are going to change this anytime soon (because of this reason!).

      Bounce rates I feel are always going to be high from social media sites Adrian – people jump about checking posts and related tags quickly – a high percentage are not going to find what they are looking for instantly…resulting in many ‘quick visits’.

      Glad you enjoyed the article mate…now why don’t you share it on twitter… ๐Ÿ™‚

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