Long before it became the commercialized mass information and entertainment juggernaut it is today, long before it was accessible to the general public, and certainly many years before Al Gore claimed he “took the initiative in creating” it, the Internet – and its predecessors – were a focal point for social interactivity.
Other sites of the era opted solely for niche, demographic-driven markets. A product of Community Connect Inc., which itself was founded just one year prior in the New York apartment of former investment banker and the future Community Connect CEO, Asian was followed by Black in 1999 and by the Hispanic-oriented Mi in 2000.
All three still exist today, with Black in particular still enjoying tremendous success with more than eight million visitors per month.
Compu Serve allowed members to share files and access news and events.
But it also offered something few had ever experienced – true interaction.
In 2002, social networking hit really its stride with the launch of Friendster.
Friendster used a degree of separation concept similar to that of the now-defunct Six Degrees.com, refined it into a routine dubbed the “Circle of Friends,” and promoted the idea that a rich online community can exist only between people who truly have common bonds.But there were also other avenues for social interaction long before the Internet exploded onto the mainstream consciousness.One such option was Compu Serve, a service that began life in the 1970s as a business-oriented mainframe computer communication solution, but expanded into the public domain in the late 1980s.Though differing from many current social networking sites in that it asks not “Who can I connect with?” but rather, “Who can I connect with that was once a schoolmate of mine?It was a hit almost immediately, and even today the service boasts some 57 million registered accounts. Sporting a name based on the theory somehow associated with actor Kevin Bacon that no person is separated by more than six degrees from another, the site sprung up in 1997 and was one of the very first to allow its users to create profiles, invite friends, organize groups, and surf other user profiles.