You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Jack Dorsey was born on 19 November 1976, in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Tim and Marcia (née Smith) Dorsey. Jack started his occasions with computers early, and at age 14, he created an open-source program for dispatch routing, used for many years. Jack went to high school at Bishop DuBourg High School and attended Missouri University of Science and Technology. While working on dispatching as a programmer, he later moved to Oakland, California.
In California in 2000, Dorsey started his company to dispatch couriers, taxis, and emergency services from the Web. His other projects and ideas at this time included networks of medical devices and a frictionless service market. In July 2000, building on dispatching and inspired partially by services like LiveJournal and AOL Instant Messenger, he had the idea for real-time status communication.
When he first saw implementations of instant messaging, he wondered if the software’s user status output could be shared among friends easily. He approached Biz Stone from Odeo (directory and search destination website for RSS-syndicated audio and video), who at the time happened to be interested in text messaging. Dorsey and Stone decided that SMS text suited the status message idea, and built a prototype of Twitter in about two weeks. The idea attracted many users at Odeo, as well as investment from Evan Williams, the founder of Pyra Labs and Blogger.
The working concept of Twitter is partially inspired by the cell phone text messaging service TXTMob.
The name Twitter was picked up later, as Dorsey recalled:
We wanted to capture that in the name — we wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket. It’s like buzzing all over the world. So we did a bunch of name-storming, and we came up with the word “twitch,” because the phone kind of vibrates when it moves. But “twitch” is not a good product name because it doesn’t bring up the right imagery. So we looked in the dictionary for words around it, and we came across the word “twitter,” and it was just perfect. The definition was “a short burst of inconsequential information,” and “chirps from birds.” And that’s exactly what the product was.
Work on the project started on 21 March 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PST: “just setting up my twttr”.
In July 2006 Twitter moved from an internal service for Odeo employees, into a full-scale version in July 2006. In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets—including Odeo.com and Twitter.com—from the investors and other shareholders.
The tipping point for Twitter’s popularity was the 2007 South by Southwest festival. During the event, usage went from 20000 tweets per day up to 60000. The Twitter people cleverly placed two 60-inch plasma screens in the conference hallways, exclusively streaming Twitter messages. Hundreds of conference-goers kept tabs on each other via constant twitters. Panelists and speakers mentioned the service, and the bloggers in attendance touted it. Soon everyone was buzzing and posting about this new thing that was sort of instant messaging and sort of blogging and maybe even a bit of sending a stream of telegrams.
The 140-character limit on message length was initially set for compatibility with SMS messaging and has brought to the web the kind of shorthand notation and slang commonly used in SMS messages. This limit has also spurred the usage of URL shortening services such as bit.ly, goo.gl, and tr.im, and content hosting services, such as Twitpic and NotePub to accommodate multimedia content and text longer than 140 characters.
The Twitter Web interface uses the Ruby on Rails framework, deployed on a Ruby Enterprise Edition. The messages were handled initially by a Ruby persistent queue server called, but since 2009 this has been gradually replaced with software written in Scala. The service’s API allows other web services and applications to integrate with Twitter. To group posts together by topic or type, users make use of hashtags, words, or phrases prefixed with a #. Similarly, the letter d followed by a username allows users to send messages privately to their followers. Otherwise, the @ sign followed by a username publicly states the attached tweets are a reply to (or just mention) any specific users (who can find such recent tweets logged in their interface).
In late 2009, the new Twitter Lists feature was added, making it possible for users to follow (and mention/reply to) lists of authors instead of following individual authors.
On March 2010, Twitter has recorded a 1500 percent growth in the number of registered users, the number of its employees has grown 500 percent, and over 70000 registered applications have been created for the microblogging platform.
In December 2012, Twitter announced it had surpassed 200 million monthly active users. In January 2013, Twitter acquired Crashlytics in order to build out its mobile developer products. In April 2013, Twitter launched a music app called Twitter Music for the iPhone. As of September 2013, the company’s data showed that 200 million users sent over 400 million tweets daily, with nearly 60% of tweets sent from mobile devices.
In April 2014, Twitter underwent a redesign that made the site resemble Facebook somewhat, with a profile picture and biography in a column left to the timeline, and a full-width header image with a parallax scrolling effect. That layout was used as the main for the desktop front end until July 2019, undergoing some minor changes over time.
In April 2015, the Twitter.com desktop homepage changed. Since May 2018, tweet replies deemed by an algorithm to be detractive from the conversation are initially hidden and only loaded by actuating a “Show more replies” element at the bottom.
Twitter experienced considerable growth during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The platform also was increasingly used for misinformation related to the pandemic. Twitter started marking tweets that contained misleading information and adding links to fact-checks. In May 2020, Twitter moderators marked two tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump as “potentially misleading” and linked to a fact-check. Trump responded by signing an executive order to weaken Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which limits social media sites’ liability for content moderation decisions. Twitter later banned Trump, claiming that he violated “the glorification of violence policy”. The ban was criticized by conservatives and some European leaders, who saw it as an interference with freedom of speech.
Business magnate Elon Musk initiated an acquisition of Twitter in April 2022 and concluded it in October 2022 (cost US$44 billion). Musk published his first tweet on his personal Twitter account in June 2010, and had more than 80 million followers by April 2022.