01/03/2013 07:59 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Social Media History Revealed By 'Wired' And Computer History Museum (PHOTOS)

Daniela Hernandez, Wired

Silicon Valley tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to tech. And in the case of social media, it seems the area was way, way ahead of the curve.

Wired's Daniela Hernandez took a trip to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (home of Google/tech holy land) and found that social media machines have been in the works in the Bay Area for decades.


Hernandez reported:

It all feels so new doesn't it? Facebook. FaceTime. Google+ hangouts. Hashtagging your memories on Twitter and Instagram.

But this holiday season, as you and your enormous collection of Apple gadgets spend all your extra time connecting with distant friends and family over the latest and greatest social media services, it's worth remembering that all this social stuff was a long time coming.

In the article, Hernandez detailed several exhibits from the museum, including the Bell Picturephone (think FaceTime in the 1960s), the DynaBook (a 1968 version of the iPad) and the iMode, a 1999 version of the smartphone in Japan.

Not surprisingly, some were less successful than others. (Ever heard of Plato? Yeah, neither had we.)

But some ideas were gold.

For starters, check out the Community Memory Terminal of 1973:

community memory terminal

community memory terminal

A prelude to Craigslist, the memory terminals were kiosks set up around San Francisco and Berkeley that served as electronic bulletin boards. Kiosks contained want ads, room-for-rent postings, restaurant recommendations and comments.

"This started out as a social experiment to see if people would be willing to share via computer," wrote Wired, paraphrasing a Community Memory Terminal brochure.

Um, yes, Community Memory Terminal. Yes people would be willing to share via computer.

Silicon Valley can't take all of the credit, however. While the Community Memory Terminal was being tested in the Bay Area, two grad students at Duke were developing Usenet, another electronic bulletin board, and now one of the oldest computer network communications systems still in use. The launch date of Usenet: 1980.

"There's nothing new about social media," wrote Beth Hayden and Rafal Tomal of Copyblogger in a post about social media history. "The Internet has always been social, and it always will be."

Check out the Wired article for more early social media platforms from the 1940s and beyond.

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