If you go to one of the sites that tell you how long a Twitter account has existed, and ask about @jack, @ev, and @biz, you'll find something interesting: All three accounts were registered on March 21, 2006.
For those keeping score at home, that's exactly six years ago. And that makes a lot of sense since those three accounts belong to Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, and Biz Stone.
Indeed, today is Twitter's sixth birthday, a number that seems impossibly large. Could it really be that long since then-Odeo employee (and now Square founder and CEO) Dorsey launched the service with the first-ever tweet, "just setting up my twttr?"
"When @jack first sketched out his notion in March 2006, no one could have predicted the trajectory of this new communication tool," Twitter wrote in a blog post about the anniversary today. "Now it seems that there are as many ways to express yourself in 140 characters as there are people doing it. And at last check, there are more than 140 million active users (there's that number again)--and today we see 340 million Tweets a day. That's more than 1 billion every 3 days. However concisely, it turns out there's plenty to say."
On Dorsey's Flickr account, in fact, there's a nice recollection of where the idea for Twitter came from. Oddly, it emerged from a desire to make the venerable blogging service LiveJournal a little bit more active.
On May 31st, 2000, I signed up with a new service called LiveJournal. I was user 4,136 which entitled me a permanent account and street cred in some alternate geeky universe which I have not yet visited. I was living in the Sunshine Biscuit Factory in Oakland California and starting a company to dispatch couriers, taxis, and emergency services from the web.
One night in July of that year I had an idea to make a more "live" LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road. Akin to updating your AIM status from wherever you are, and sharing it. For the next 5 years, I thought about this concept and tried to silently introduce it into my various projects. It slipped into my dispatch work. It slipped into my networks of medical devices. It slipped into an idea for a frictionless service market. It was everywhere I looked: a wonderful abstraction which was easy to implement and understand.
The 6th year; the idea has finally solidified (thanks to the massively creative environment my employer Odeo provides) and taken a novel form. We're calling it twttr (though this original rendering calls it stat.us; I love the word.ed domains, e.g. gu.st/). It's evolved a lot in the past few months. From an excited discussion and persuasion on the South Park playground to a recently approved application for a SMS shortcode. I'm happy this idea has taken root; I hope it thrives. Some things are worth the wait.
So I won't be the first, or the last. But still, let me wish a happy birthday to a service that has changed the world in ways no one could have predicted on March 20, 2006, and will continue to do so in ways we can't imagine on March 21, 2012.