Facebook can be an overwhelming sea of information, with real-time updates, photos, and more posted from thousands of brands, friends, and groups.
When Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, there wasn't much to it.
- User accounts (with real names required), restricted to @harvard.edu email addresses
- Friends, including friend requests
- Invitations (no contact importer; you had to enter each email address individually)
- Profiles, with a single photo for each user
- Ability to list user metadata like gender, birthday, dorm, phone number, favorite music, favorite books, "about me," courses (structured)
- Search by name, class year, courses, other metadata
- Some privacy restrictions to limit who could see your profile (friends only, only people in my class year)
- A feature to visualize a user's friend graph, which was later cut
That's right. There was no messaging. No poking or notifications. No walls or status updates. Only one photo was allowed.
Here are a few early Facebook screenshots to remind you how dumbed-down the product was when college kids first fell in love with it. There wasn't much you could do besides edit your interests and stalk friends' pages.
Here's the first Facebook homepage from early 2004. Back then, only Harvard kids could sign up. Maybe you forgot that the site's footer used to say Facebook was "a Mark Zuckerberg production." Al Pacino used to be the site's logo, and the site's name had "The" in front of it. When you logged in with your school email, you were taken to your profile page, not a News Feed. There was no News Feed, poking, group pages, or messaging. Only one photo was allowed per user.
Some original features that have been sunsetted: relationship statuses; "Random Play" or "Whatever I can get"; the ability to post Away Messages and parties. Many people posted their screen names and phone numbers willingly.
Here's an early look at Mark Zuckerberg's first profile page. It included personal information most people are too afraid to share now, including his dorm room, birthday, email, and screen name.
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