10 Landmark Moments in YouTube History

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I've really been getting into my Instagram app these days, exploring ways to manipulate it beyond the standard filters that come with it. My most recent experiment is taking pictures of things on my computer screen; the glossy reflection, depending on sunlight and room conditions make for some pretty beautiful patterns and effects. Below you'll find some shots I recently took off YouTube—a pictorial history of sorts.

1. Charlie Bit My Finger

Still my favorite online video of all time, and, judging by the number of views (it's now up to 366,792,355 as of this writing), many others' favorite, as well, "Charlie Bit My Finger" has everything a good homemade video should have: endearing subjects, little-to-no interference from the video's "director" and a heavily anticipated moment of action, in this case, the innocent chomping of a finger.

(YouTube channel page)

By the way, if you're wondering whether or not there's any money in posting YouTube videos, by my crude calculations, this little video has made about $734,000 for the family that uploaded it (based on a blended, average $2/CPM, which is fairly standard for YouTube partner channels). And that's just the one video! The channel has many, popular videos on it.

2. David After Dentist

As of this writing, more than 98 million people have viewed little David struggling to make sense of the world after his trip to the dentist’s office where he had oral surgery, preceded by a healthy dose of some wild anesthetic. Whether the video is exploitative and takes advantage of David for laughs is up to each viewer. But what’s indisputable is the fact that the video has earned its rightful place in the YouTube Hall of Fame.

(YouTube channel page)

3. Diet Coke + Mentos

If you haven't seen the crazy duo behind this experiment on Letterman or Ellen, you're missing part of the fun. Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz spent six months developing different Coke & Mentos geyser effects before they were ready to start shooting videos. The big video on YouTube employed more than 100 two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, more than 500 Mentos and was astonishingly shot in one take! To date, the vid has more than 14 million views.

(YouTube video link)

4. Dorkiness Prevails

I remember this video broke on the scene shortly after the mentalfloss blog launched and some of us were wondering if it was worth covering. Then Randy wrote about it a few months later, and, well, it might be the first time we ever wrote about something YouTubesque. Granted, there was a story here, right? This was the video that duped us all into thinking there really was a dorky hot chick, lonely, as her handle announced, vlogging daily from her little apartment. Soon though, we found out it was all concocted by some pretty smart Hollywood-types who had pulled the wool over our eyes and earned their spot in YouTube history.

5. Evolution of Dance

Comedian Judson Laipply made history when he uploaded his version of the 6-minute history of dance, moving seamlessly between eras, styles, fashions and moves. For a long time, this video held the most-viewed spot before Charlie came along. Still, to date it has more than 178 million views.

(YouTube channel page)

6. Yes We Can

This classic, uploaded in 2008, was assembled by will.i.am and features John Legend, Common and Scarlett Johansson. Together, they made a music video from one of Barack Obama's stump speeches during the 2006 primary campaign, highlighting his now famous slogan "Yes We Can." The timing of the release of the video helped to push support toward Obama at the right time in the 2008 election.

(YouTube video link)

7. Me at the Zoo

“Me at the zoo” was shot by Yakov Lapitsky. It's only 19 seconds long and only shows us Jawed Karim (one of the three founders of the Web site) at the San Diego Zoo. Still, it does hold the distinction of being the very first video uploaded to the site, so its place in history is secured for sure. Today, more than 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

(YouTube channel page)

8. Kittens Inspired by Kittens

What pictorial history of YouTube would be complete without a cat video, eh? "Kittens Inspired by Kittens" features an adorable 6-year-old inserting her own literal narrative to the photos in a children's book titled Kittens. It's been seen more than 13 million times as of today.

(YouTube video link)

9. JK Wedding Entrance Dance

More than 68 million views later, Kevin and Jill's wedding ceremony is still going strong. The choreographed processional to Chris Brown's "Forever" has allowed them to raise more than $26,000 for the Sheila Wellstone Institute. Yep, they're putting most of the income to charity—something few of us would do. Well, then again, how many of us would create a dance like that in the first place?!

(YouTube video link)

10. RickRoll'D

Rick Astley's 1987 video "Never Gonna Give You Up" got new life in 2008 when a 4Chan user promised a video-game trailer and instead linked readers to Astley's video. The trick, dubbed Rickrolling, has become an April Fools staple, racking up more than 51 million views to date.

(Don't do it!)

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August 18, 2011 - 6:12am
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