The History of Viral Videos

Head to the local library and you will find shelves and shelves piled with books filled with information about anything and everything. Pull out a book from past decades and you will discover classical approaches to solving a problem or meeting a particular need. Nevertheless, when talking about the history of viral content, the backstory and the future of this phenomenon go in one place: the Internet.

As viral videos continue to become more engrained in our culture and our lives, the best way to understand how to take advantage of this trend is to understand how it came to be. Check this timeline we have prepared for you.

1995

The short film, “The Spirit of Christmas,” launched the careers of two relatively unknown filmmakers, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The duo initially passed the video on VHS tapes until some loyal friends made the revolutionary decision to upload it on the Internet. From this one video, two major sensations were born: South Park and viral video.

2005


Despite that the first real viral video came 10 years earlier, the true foundation of the video sharing explosion was a result of three people: Chad Hurley, Jawed Karim and Steve Chen, who, unbeknownst to them, created one of the world’s most popular websites in February 2005: YouTube.

The first ever YouTube video posted to the site came two months later on April 23, 2005. The 19-second video featuring co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo is as simple as it gets, but it has still managed to rack up 15,678,999 views.

2007


A fan favorite –seven years and 749,777,911 views later– a minor oversight in forgetting to mark the video as “private” created one of the most memorable moments in video history, Charlie Bit My Finger Again.

2008


The top viral video of 2008 is also one of the greatest freak-outs by a news anchor.

2010


The ultimate branded viral video from Old Spice is at 48,910,428 views and keeps counting.

2011


Possibly the most hated and beloved viral video of all time; however, its 70,232,794 views demonstrate the power of YouTube and online video to promote musical talent (with the definition of talent with any kind of interpretations).

2012


Arguably one of the most ridiculous -and yet most viral- video of all times has garnered the attention of the entire world with 2,055,650,350 views.

2014

New Yorkers have a reputation for being grouchy and jaded, but they got a taste of their own medicine when they encountered an abandoned baby in a stroller that screamed, growled, vomited and even gave them the finger. Turns out the animatronic “Devil Baby,” which has racked up more than 48 million YouTube views since January 2014, was a viral marketing stunt for the horror movie Devil’s Due.

2015


If you are a fan of Missy since the 90’s, you were super stoked when she busted out a killer performance at the 2015 Super Bowl. Well, Missy is back again and she is killing it in this surprise release video for her latest single ‘WTF’ with Pharrell. Missy is dancing and moving all over the place and the cherry on top is the Pharrell and Missy marionette puppets.

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