Yahoo is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Monday, and plenty has changed in the world — and on the World Wide Web — since its launch in 1995.
To commemorate two decades on the Internet, Yahoo News editors came up with a list of Internet-era words and phrases that didn't exist when the company launched. Among them: "blogs," "selfies," and even "social media." Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was just 10 years old when Yahoo came online, tweets were strictly bird noises (without character limits) and Tumblrs weren't missing vowels.
The word "Yahoo" itself existed long before the company — it was coined in the 1726 novel "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift. "Yahoos" were a race of brutish creatures who were rude, unsophisticated and uncouth in the book. That's partly why founders Jerry Yang and David Filo picked it when they chose to rename their eponymous "Guide to the World Wide Web" Yahoo. The word was also an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," a nod to the web portal's roots as a directory.
Below, to show how the digital landscape has changed over Yahoo's tenure in the tech world, 20 words and phrases that came into existence or were popularized after Yahoo went live in 1995.
Blogs, short for weblogs, came into existence in the late 1990s and initially referred to sites with diary-like, first-person posts on a of variety subjects and published in reverse chronological order. This led to an era of blog celebrities and the concept of blogging became a staple in digital news reporting.
The online payment system which launched in 2009, is becoming more and more common, with 100,000 merchants currently accepting bitcoin payments. But there's evidence that the cryptocurrency is stalling. A recent Federal Reserve analysis concluded the currency is “still barely used for payments for goods and services.”
Clickbait, or online content that generates "clicks" from users and, in turn, revenue from advertisers, is an often derogatory term that suggests a lack of quality or accuracy. In 2014, the Onion launched a satirical website — Clickhole — parodying sites that specialize in so-called clickbait, including BuzzFeed and Upworthy.
Crowdsourcing was coined by Wired magazine in 2005 as "the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call."
Friend [verb] and Like [noun]
When Yahoo launched in the mid-1990s, “friend” was a simple noun and “like” a standard verb. But thanks to the launch of Facebook in 2004, these words have swapped parts of speech and redefined the way people behave online. These days, to “friend” or “unfriend” more commonly refers to the act of adding or removing people on Facebook and the number of “likes” we receive on photos, which equate to social status. And woe to the person who posts a pic that gets no likes — #theworst.
Flash mobs, or groups of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, often for a brief performance, became a popular public art form in the mid-to-late 2000s with the rise of mobile communications to help them organize.
The company behind those mountable HD cameras that have become ubiquitous with viral action-sports and drone videos first launched in 2002. In 2014, the San Mateo, California-based company went public with a valuation of nearly $3 billion.
Hashtags were created during Twitter's formative years as a way to search or organize tweets by topic, and were later adopted by other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Users put the number, or pound symbol in front of a word to mark it as relevant to a discussion topic, i.e. #hashtag. The word "hashtag" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June.
An Internet meme is an idea that spreads quickly and virally across the Internet. Many involve pets; some texting secretaries of state. Know Your Meme, a website dedicated to chronicling popular memes, launched in 2008.
Photobombing, the act of inserting yourself (intentionally or otherwise) into someone else's photo, existed long before the Internet. But like plenty of other things in the Internet era, photobombing has become a social-media driven sport. The most recent gold-medal winner: Queen Elizabeth, who photobombed a pair of unwitting Australian field hockey players during Her Majesty's visit down under.
Podcasts — music or talk shows available for downloading and listening on mobile devices — emerged as a new medium in the mid-2000s as the popularity of iPods and iTunes surged. Originally modeled after traditional talk radio, podcasts have gained in prominence in recent years, most notably with the success of the nonfiction podcast Serial.
Selfies, or self-portraits, were around long before they were popularized by vain social media users. But the word "selfie" was arguably cemented in the pop culture lexicon by Ellen Degeneres at the 2014 Academy Awards, where the comedian took the most retweeted selfie of all time and nearly broke the Internet in the process.
It's hard to believe, but Yahoo existed long before popular social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and LinkedIn, and was even founded before pioneering platforms Friendster and MySpace.
Text, as a verb, is the act of sending a text message from a smartphone. The popularity of texting, particularly among younger generations, has led older generations to bemoan the use of texts in lieu of verbal conversation, and federal officials to issue dire warnings of the dangers of texting-while-driving.
Sexting, texting's risque companion, can range from flirtatious texting to nude-photo sharing, with everyone from teenagers to congressmen (see: Anthony Weiner) joining in. A study released last fall found one in four American teens had sexted, suggesting that it has become the smartphone generation's "new first base."
Smackdown, or the act of knocking an opponent to the ground, has largely been co-opted by the WWE. But the Internet's commenting culture has spawned decades of digital text-based public smackdowns — some spirited, others sickening.
Another product of the Web's commenting culture, online trolls — or people whose entire existence seems to be arguing on the Internet — arose during the 'Net's early years of newsgroups and chat rooms, but gained prominence with the rise of Twitter, where trolls often do their dirtiest work.
A message, usually measuring 140 characters or less, published on Twitter. The first tweet was published in 2006; now, more than 500 million tweets are sent per day, according to Twitter data.
Before social media came along, "going viral" was a phrase that conjured hazmat suits. Nowadays, it's associated with rapid Internet success that transcends web culture, such as the recent debate surrounding the colors of a dress.
Wireless Internet technology existed well before 1995, but the term Wi-Fi was first used in 1999. In 2005, Sunnyvale, California, where Yahoo is based, became the first city in the United States to offer city-wide free Wi-Fi.