The History of YouTube

Duncan Collins
6 min readOct 4, 2022

YouTube began on February 14, 2005. In the app title, “You” represents user-generated content and “Tube” represents a television. The domain name “YouTube” was activated on this date, but video upload options were not integrated until April 23, 2005. YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The three founders all worked at PayPal before quitting their jobs to start what would soon be known as YouTube. When creating their new company, they assumed roles they had previously held at PayPal. “Hurley was responsible for the looks of the website; he used his art skills to create the logo and the design of the site. Chen made sure the page worked and that there would be no issues with the uploading process. Karim was a programmer and helped ensure the initial website was put together properly” (Hook).

YouTube was originally called “Tune In, Hook Up.” It was originally made as a video dating website where people could upload videos of themselves to find dates. It is funny how some of the most well-known social media platforms (Facebook and YouTube) original purpose was to find a partner. They were inspired by the website Hot or Not and the ability to rate people based on their attractiveness. Tune In, Hook Up was design similar to Hot or Not, except users were able to upload videos of themselves instead of pictures. This ultimately failed because people were not interested in this idea. “The creators even paid people on Craigslist to upload videos of themselves on the site, but people refused, although, the site provided an exceptional video and uploading platform” (ColdFusion). The creators realized that no one was uploading videos for their original purpose, but people were uploading videos about their pets, vacations, and anything else personal. That is when the three founders decided to turn YouTube into a general video site. The problem the three founders faced was after the Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson Super Bowl Halftime Show incident, they realized they could not find any videos of it on the internet. “When they noticed that this type of platform did not exist, they made the changes to become the first major video-sharing platform. The idea of the new company was for non-computer experts to be able to use a simple interface that allowed the user to publish, upload, and view streaming videos through standard web browsers and modern internet speeds” (Wikipedia).

YouTube users can choose to do one of six things on the platform. “First, they can search for and watch videos. Secondly, they can create a personal YouTube channel. Thirdly, they can upload videos to their channel. Fourth, they can like, comment, or share other YouTube videos. Fifth, they can subscribe/follow other YouTube channels and users. Finally, they can create playlists to organize videos and group videos together” (Webwise). Over the years, YouTube has made changes that impact the number of users the app generates, including the addition of sidepieces YouTube introduced such as in-video ads, YouTube live, YouTube red (which is now called YouTube premium), YouTube tv, etc.

YouTube’s design has changed substantially over time. It started very basic with five tabs in the navigation bar at the top of the screen and a log-in to use the app to a navigation bar on the left side of the screen and topics of potential interest near the top that allows users to watch videos based on that topic. The site also points the user to recommended videos to watch based on previously viewed videos. YouTube has definitely allowed the user to explore and be more curious. Under the navigation bar and subscriptions tab, a section titled “Explore” allows you to view videos of a certain topic similar to the topics of potential interest. You can also learn more about YouTubes services, such as YouTube Premium, YouTube music, etc. YouTube used to be designed so that the user could only watch featured videos or search for videos. YouTube also changed the video player to make it look more crisper and cleaner. YouTube also changed its logo. It seems like as technology evolved, the YouTube logo also evolved and now it looks much cleaner. These changes reflect the platform’s values and goals because YouTube's mission is to “give everyone a voice and show them the world. We believe that everyone deserves to have a voice and that the world is a better place when we listen, share, and build communities through our stories.” (About YouTube) Over the years, YouTube has become more accessible and made it easier in giving everyone a voice and showing them the world.

The platform has been a part of a cultural scandal. In 2014, women accused 40 male YouTubers of sexual harassment and misconduct. The accused creators were later canceled. Their channels on YouTube were wiped. This is where the term “cancel culture” comes from. The bad part about that is the accusers can easily make another YouTube channel and post videos. One accuser left the public eye but returned five years later posting a video titled “An Apology”. Accusers are putting other scandals to rest by uploading apology videos. The original 2014 cancel culture scandal had the ability to overcome the size of the accused creators’ fanbases and slowly push them out of the public eye. But now, with more of the world watching YouTube, these opinions draw the attention that allows the accused to still thrive. “A YouTuber who is technically canceled but puts out a video to several million views talking about it is laughing that cancellation all the way to the bank” (Lindsay). “To prevent things like this from happening again, YouTube has cracked down on its harassment and misconduct policies to make the platform safer for everyone, especially for kids. This policy requires users to declare if their video is made for kids or not” (Romano). In my opinion, this resolution is not sufficient enough. It seems like YouTube is giving future accusers second chances on their platform. I think YouTube should be able to point out a red flag and ban said person from YouTube for a period of time. If YouTube sees a form of harassment from that person, they should be able to ban that person for good. I think if YouTube keeps up with its policies, I think accusers will be able to find loopholes.

Overall, I think this platform offers a benefit to society in its current form because the platform is used daily by billions. I think it offers the satisfaction that a user is trying to get out of it whether they upload videos or watch videos. Salman Aslam, a writer for Omnicore says, “There are 2.6 billion monthly active YouTube users. There are 122 million daily active YouTube users. There are 1 billion daily hours add video watched on YouTube. There are 1 billion videos watched per day on YouTube. There are 500 hours of videos uploaded per minute” (Aslam). YouTube will always be evolving and getting better. YouTube will continue to give everyone a voice and it will always continue showing us the world.


“The Dropouts Who Invented YouTube from a Rat-Infested Office.” YouTube. YouTube, November 7, 2021.

coldfustion. “How Did YouTube Start?” YouTube. YouTube, February 4, 2015.

“History of YouTube.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, September 27, 2022.

McGarrigle, Jane. “Explained: What Is YouTube?”, August 4, 2021.

“About YouTube.” YouTube. Accessed October 10, 2022.,build%20community%20through%20our%20stories.

Lindsay, Kathryn. “YouTube’s First Big Scandal Was Cancel Culture Done Right — What Happened?” Cancel Culture On YouTube Started In 2014. Accessed October 10, 2022.

Romano, Aja. “YouTube Just Made Sweeping Positive Changes to Its Harassment Policy. so Why All the Backlash?” Vox. Vox, December 13, 2019.

“• Youtube by the Numbers (2022): Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts.” Omnicore Agency, August 21, 2022.