What Is the Actual History Behind the Very First Internet Meme?

Did you know that 74% of people send memes to make their friends and family laugh?

Memes have come to be so much more than just funny internet pictures. These days, they have evolved into a relatable and accessible form of self-expression.

But what is the original internet meme? Tracing the history of memes is useful for understanding the origins of the whole cultural phenomenon.

Read on for everything you need to know about the history behind the very first meme.


What Makes an Internet Meme?

Almost every social media user has viewed their fair share of internet memes. Whether you receive them directly or stumble upon them while scrolling, memes are a staple of internet culture and communication.

An internet meme is any viral phenomenon circulated widely on the web. It usually includes a picture or video accompanied by text referencing a running joke.

Many people create and distribute memes to express their take on current affairs. Other memes are created just for fun.


Were There Memes Before the Internet?

To understand the history of the current meme phenomenon, it helps to learn a little about the origin of the term itself.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins first coined the word ‘meme’ in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He used it to describe a type of mass imitation, deriving the phrase from the ancient Greek word for “that which is inherited.”

The phenomenon can be observed as early as 79 AD. The graffiti at Pompeii’s preserved archaeological sites were found to contain ancient memes – including phrases and jokes that were popular around the world at that time.


What Were the First Memes?

Now we know about the history of the meme concept, let’s take a look at some of the first internet memes.

In the early days of online communication, emails were the easiest way to share what would become the first trackable internet memes. One notable example is the original dancing baby meme.

Featuring a crudely animated depiction of a small baby performing a dance routine, this clip was unprecedented in its viral popularity. Since then, other classic memes have featured everybody from Mario to Rick Astley.


Memes Today

Memes today represent an essential form of communication between remote contacts. The ability to convey an emotion, sentiment, or idea using a viral concept fosters a sense of community between individuals who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to connect.

Moreover, memes can be a great marketing tool or statement for your social media drive.

Check out this custom meme generator and a meme video maker to create a meaningful or hilarious viral phenomenon for yourself.


The Fascinating History of the Internet Meme

So, that’s the 101 on the first internet meme and its humble origins.

Understanding where the first meme originated allows us to gain perspective on how we communicate today.

Did you find this article interesting? If so, be sure to check out our other posts for everything you need to know about media, entertainment, business, and more.


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