The First Instagram vs. the First Photograph

The first light of the beloved app was a picture of, what else, someone's cute dog.

tumblr_m79s7pFFG71qm4rc3-615.jpg

Instagram

Two years ago yesterday a start-up with an app called Codename uploaded the test picture above, the first ever photo on the app that would become Instagram. In the time since, more than 50 million people have shared more than a billion such images.

The picture in some ways captures that particular Instagram zeitgeist -- a filter that makes images look old, loved, and classic; a subject (a dog in this case and many others) that is charming; and, of course, that distinctly square shape. It's interesting, even paradoxical, that in this era of rapid change we can point to the first Instagram and find it "Instagrammy" and the first photo ever posted to the web and find it to be in some ways "webby." Underneath the constant tumult we observe, there is some technological and aesthetic stability. Contrast that with the long haul: The first photograph ever gives few hints of the medium to come.

1st-photo-ever-615.jpg

Wikimedia Commons

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Technology

Just In