Happy Birthday, Facebook

2 minute read

Remember TheFacebook.com?

When TheFacebook launched on this day, Feb. 4, in 2004, it was for a limited audience and offered limited capabilities — and, the first time the site showed up in TIME, the writer had an appropriately limited amount to say about it.

The site’s first mention in TIME was later that year, in a story about online dating for the college set, in which Facebook’s founders insisted that their site didn’t belong in that group:

The operators of college dating sites sometimes don’t like to admit their sites are for dating, preferring to play up how they enhance student life in general. Chris Hughes, a rising junior at Harvard who helped start Thefacebook.com at his school earlier this year, says when his roommate Mark Zuckerberg came up with the idea, it was to be “a directory of information for college students.” Offering Friendsteresque features, it allows students to network through friends and connect with people in their classes they would like to meet. The site now boasts 58 member colleges, including all of the Ivy League.

Of course, that iteration of Facebook didn’t last long. The “the” went away; the college-only restrictions went away; the user figures expanded — to a whopping 864 million a day, as of September — and the website appeared nearly 800 times more in the pages of TIME, plus about 2,000 online mentions.

And counting.

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com