Home Twitter’s Humble Origins: Jack Dorsey, His Pager and a Hack

Twitter’s Humble Origins: Jack Dorsey, His Pager and a Hack

If you were a child of the 1990s (and even the early 2000s), then you might remember pagers, those silly little vibrating devices you would clip to your supa-fly JNCO jeans that either flagged you as a teenage victim of overprotective parents, drug dealer, bike messenger or working stiff.

Such is the birthplace of Twitter, way back in 2001, according to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Dorsey is cut of the bike messenger variety.

Jack Dorsey has come a long way from his bike messenger past back then, but without it, Twitter might simply be a twinkle in someone else’s eye. Dorsey told Gizmodo’s Mat Honan that it was from these days, when his pager sat securely attached to his hip – just as he and everyone else in the 90s was attached to their AOL Instant Messenger clients – that the idea for Twitter was born as a hack merging the two.

“I loved seeing at a glance my friends status updates. But I also really appreciated at the same time the dispatch aspect, where you’re out in the world doing something away from the keyboard and IM did not allow that,” Dorsey told Wired. “I had a RIM pager, the 850, the first email device. I programed a system where I could fire off an email from that and set my status from anywhere. And it worked! And I was able to also at a regular interval pull my buddy list and get those updates sent to my email address. It was awesome! But the number of people who had those mobile devices was so minimal that the timing was just not right. This was 2001.”

Five years later, Dorsey joined up with Evan Williams at Odeo and rehashed the idea. Another five years later and Twitter has become a force to be reckoned with.

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