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This month in Tech History – Facebook

This week in Tech History.

February 4, 2004

Mark Zuckerberg launches The Facebook, which later becomes Facebook. The world changes forever.

Original layout and name of Thefacebook, 2004


Thefacebook, Thiel investment, and name change

Zuckerberg built a website called “Facemash” in 2003 while attending Harvard University. The site was comparable to Hot or Not and used “photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the “hotter” person”.

Facemash attracted 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours. The site was sent to several campus group list-servers but was shut down a few days later by Harvard administration. Zuckerberg faced expulsion and was charged with breaching security, violating copyrights and violating individual privacy. Ultimately, the charges were dropped. Zuckerberg expanded on this project that semester by creating a social study tool ahead of an art history final exam. He uploaded all art images to a website, each of which was accompanied by a comments section, then shared the site with his classmates.

A “face book” is a student directory featuring photos and personal information. In 2003, Harvard had only a paper version along with private online directories.  Zuckerberg told the Crimson, “Everyone’s been talking a lot about a universal face book within Harvard. … I think its kind of silly that it would take the University a couple of years to get around to it. I can do it better than they can, and I can do it in a week.”] In January 2004, Zuckerberg coding a new website, known as “TheFacebook”, inspired by a Crimson editorial about Facemash, stating, “It is clear that the technology needed to create a centralized Website is readily available … the benefits are many.” Zuckerberg met with Harvard student Eduardo Saverin, and each of them agreed to invest $1,000 in the site. On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched ” the service.

Six days after the site launched, Harvard seniors Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra accused Zuckerberg of intentionally misleading them into believing that he would help them build a social network called They claimed that he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product. The three complained to the Crimson and the newspaper began an investigation. They later sued Zuckerberg, settling in 2008 for 1.2 million shares (worth $300 million at Facebook’s IPO).

Facebook has gone on to dominate the social media world and in 2010 announced they had over 500m users,

In March 2012, Facebook announced App Center, a store selling applications that operate via the website. The store was to be available on iPhones, Android devices, and mobile web users. In April 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock.

On April 12, 2016, Zuckerberg outlined his 10-year vision, which rested on three main pillars: artificial intelligence, increased global connectivity and virtual/augmented reality

On April 18 Facebook announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces at its annual F8 developer conference  Facebook Spaces is a virtual reality version of Facebook for Oculus VR goggles. In a virtual and shared space, users can access a curated selection of 360-degree photos and videos using their avatar, with the support of the controller. Users can access their own photos and videos, along with media shared on their newsfeed

In January 2019, the 10-year challenge was started asking users to post a photograph of themselves from 10 years ago (2009) and a more recent photo.

(in millions US$)
Year Revenue Growth
2004 $0.4
2005 $9 2150%
2006 $48 433%
2007 $153 219%
2008 $280 83%
2009 $775 177%
2010 $2,000 158%
2011 $3,711 86%
2012 $5,089 37%
2013 $7,872 55%
2014 $12,466] 58%
2015 $17,928 44%
2016 $27,638 54%
2017 $40,653 47%
2018 $55,013 38%

Facebook has changed the way the world work and the way we interact with each other, who would have thought that 10 years ago?