YouTube has come a long way since it first launched back in 2005. With more than 1.3 billion videos in its archives, and its biggest stars earning six-figure salaries, it’s evolved into one of the most powerful social media platforms around.
And it all started with a trip to the zoo…
Here are the first 10 videos ever published to YouTube.
- ‘Me at the Zoo’, Jawed Karim – April 23, 2005
- ‘My Snowboarding Skillz’, MW – April 23, 2005
- ‘Tribute’, GP – April 24, 2005
- ‘Premature Baldness’, Paul – April 28, 2005
- ‘Carrie Rides a Truck’, Jones4Carrie – April 30, 2005
- ‘Cybergoon Squad’, Greg – May 2, 2005
- ‘Vernal Lullaby’, Adam Quirk – May 2, 2005
- ‘Pajamas and Nick Drake’, Steve – May 22, 2005
- ‘First Back Flip on YouTube!’, Cobaltgruv – May 24, 2005
- ‘Stadion Bayen Munchen’, Dominoes – June 13, 2005
1. ‘Me at the Zoo’, Jawed Karim – April 23, 2005
The first ever YouTube video was posted on April 23, 2005. Just 18 seconds long and filmed on a grainy camera, the clip features Jawed Karim – one of YouTube’s founders – discussing the length of an elephant’s trunk at San Diego Zoo. Amazingly, it has more than 90 million views.
“Alright so here we are in front of the elephants,” a young Karim tells the camera. “The cool thing about these guys is that they have, um, really, really, really long trunks, and that’s cool. And that’s pretty much all there is to say.”
2. ‘My Snowboarding Skillz’, MW – April 23, 2005
Hot on the tails of Me at the Zoo was a clip that would go on to pave the way for YouTube’s many, many “fail” videos. Entitled My Snowboarding Skillz – the z really placing it firmly in that Noughties era – this 10-second clip, also published on April 23, 2005, shows that uploader MW’s snowboarding skills are almost as good as the camera quality.
3. ‘Tribute’, GP – April 24, 2005
The third video to be uploaded to YouTube, on April 24 2005, doesn’t look too dissimilar to some of the TikToks making the rounds on social media today. The sole video from user GP, Tribute shows a man jumping between two walls and screaming, before being congratulated by the cameraman at the end. The five-second clip has no context and seemingly no purpose, much like many viral clips today.
4. ‘Premature Baldness’, Paul – April 28, 2005
The fourth video to be uploaded to YouTube, on April 28, 2005, shows a long-haired man known only as Paul shaving a bald patch into his blonde locks on a busy beach walk in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. Unlike the previous clips, this is a video that has been cut and edited, and comes with a description explaining that Paul wanted to know what he would look like at the age of 50.
The video has since been unlisted. We can’t imagine why …
5. ‘Carrie Rides a Truck’, Jones4Carrie – April 30, 2005
The fifth video to be uploaded to YouTube is much as the title suggests. This short and soundless 15-second clip shows a girl named Carrie, riding in a truck. Granted, it’s a toy truck of the coin-operated variety, but other than that, the video does very much what it says on the tin. It was uploaded on April 30, 2005 by user Jones4Carrie, who was responsible for many of the first videos uploaded to the platform.
6. ‘Cybergoon Squad’, Greg – May 2, 2005
Cybergoon Squad is the six video, and the first animated video, to be uploaded to YouTube, and it also takes the title of the first truly weird clip to surface on the site. This five-second animation shows three cyborg-esque characters strolling hastily through a metallic tunnel. Who knows where they are going, or why, but the clip has almost 160,000 views.
7. ‘Vernal Lullaby’, Adam Quirk – May 2, 2005
This grainy clip is the seventh YouTube video to be published, and shows scenes in New York City set to Queens of the Stone Age’s track This Lullaby. It is one of the longer clips from the early days of YouTube, at one minute 23 seconds. It appears to be the first of many fan-made music videos that can now be found on the platform.
8. ‘Pajamas and Nick Drake’, Steve – May 22, 2005
The eighth video in the list really paved the way for one of YouTube’s runaway genres – cat videos. The 30-second clip, showing a pet owner teasing their cat with a string toy in a dimly lit room, has more than 120,000 views and was uploaded by a man known simply as Steve, who, whether he knows it or not, has become the trendsetter of a generation.
9. ‘First Back Flip on YouTube!’, Cobaltgruv – May 24, 2005
As you can tell from the title of this one, user CobaltGruv knew he was ahead of the game. This one-minute clip has had far more go into it than the handful of YouTube videos that came before it. There are captions that run across the screen in fancy blue font, psychedelic music, and there’s even slow motion as the man successfully lands a back flip from the roof of his house on to his front lawn. Unlike many of the early YouTubers, this user is still active today with back flip and trick videos, although, thankfully, his editing skills have developed with the times.
10. ‘Stadion Bayen Munchen’, Dominoes – June 13, 2005
And finally, the tenth video to hit YouTube is a 40-second pan of the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. The camera quality is extremely grainy and jumpy, but the clip, taken from the top of the stands, gives you a sweeping view of the impressive structure if you squint hard enough. Uploaded on June 13, 2005, it has had 23,000 views and is the first football-related video to grace YouTube’s archives.