Who do we have to thank for Twitter?

Ten years in, Twitter has had a huge impact on the world.

But not without enormous struggle.

From an SMS-based pivot at Odeo, to an API-led platform for 140-char communication, it has coalesced into a Card-based stream with pretty strict walls around the garden.

Who do we have to thank for Twitter’s existence? Apportion it to the founding team in whatever weighting you feel necessary.

But who do we have to thank for Twitter’s success? I think that’s a different question.

More than most software, the platform thrived because of what people built on top of it. The etiquette that became features. The apps that shone on smartphones and made business use feasible. The minds that saw opportuity in the breadth and depth of what the API would let you achieve.

I think this was the source of Twitter’s greatest success, even helping it beat competitors that were technically better featured. It’s also the lesson to learn if it’s to achieve its future potential.

Below, I’ve assembled a list of examples. Yes, lots of the concepts exist on other platforms already and in many cases, they weren’t explicitly trying to create something, they were simply using the platform and building/ adopting as they needed.

But if anything, that also goes to show how shocking it is that a team focused 24/7 on that goal has made to little progress.

If there’s anyone else you should be included, let me know. Otherwise, in no particular order:


Thanks to Chris Messina for the #:

Thanks to Robert S Andersen for the @ reply:

Thanks to Eric Rice for the RT:

Thanks to Loren Brichter for creating Tweetie (which became the official Twitter app) and iaindodsworth for TweetDeck.

Thanks to Yiying Lu for the Fail Whale.

Thanks to Wordpress for creating embedded tweets.