A Brief History of Instagram’s Fateful First Day

4 minute read

It’s hard to imagine a world without Instagram. Without the Valencia filter. Without square-format pictures. Without amateur food photography filling your feed.

But that world did once exist — just a mere six years ago. On this day in 2010, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger unleashed the photo-sharing platform that, though they didn’t know it at the time, would soon become a selfie-filled, multi-billion-dollar beast used by 500 million people. Although Instagram wasn’t yet available to the public, Systrom and Krieger started testing their brainchild with a few experimental snaps. Here’s how it all went down, based on the Instagram histories of the two men.

1:26 p.m.: Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) posts the first-ever Instagram. It’s a somewhat artsy shot out of a window towards a marina, with tilted framing and what appears to be heavy filtering. As Instagram did not yet have location tagging at this point, it’s unclear where, exactly, Krieger posted from. He did not append a caption.

3:00 p.m.: Krieger then uploads the second-ever Instagram. This time, it’s a picture of co-founder Systrom at his desk. Again: heavy filtering, slightly blurred optics. Systrom, who goes by the handle “@kevin,” was the first to comment: “Friday work,” he wrote. After that, Krieger added: “Kevin hard at work.” Little did they know that someday soon, a simple caption or comment explaining a scene just wouldn’t fly.

3:58 p.m.: Systrom kicks off his own account with a picture of something he captions as “Awesome pins.” To this day, it remains unclear what, exactly, the light-up emoji-like symbols are a part of, where the image was taken, or what Systrom was attempting to showcase with this choice of first post.

4:11 p.m.: Krieger, ever the trailblazer, launches the lauded tradition of Instagram food photography with a sepia-toned snap of a dinner table. Based on the chopsticks, it looks like some kind of Asian food was consumed. There’s also plenty of beer to be had.

4:42 p.m.: Systrom counters with his own food snap. Primary components: a fork and some kind of tomato-based or red sauce dish in a white bowl. The color composition is strong, but the lack of clarity wouldn’t cut it in today’s competitive food ‘gram market.

5:05 p.m.: Looks like Krieger hit up the movie theater to celebrate a big first day of ‘gramming, based on this super-blurry snap captioned only “Inception.” The Christopher Nolan movie of the same name, starring Leonardo diCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, had come out just a few days prior — so it’s a fair guess that Krieger watched it that night.

5:24 p.m.: Meanwhile, Systrom’s prophetic third post would set the stage for one of the most popular Instagram categories: puppy pics.

5:29 p.m.: The inaugural puppy pic was quickly followed five minutes later by a snap of the taco stand Systrom was, evidently, visiting. Looks like a Valencia filter to us.

5:33 p.m.: Systrom was really on a roll; he finished up the day with a picture of a companion sipping what looks like a very delicious cocktail.

And so concluded the first day in Instagram posting history. It was an illustrious start, touching on most of the components we would soon see as trends: food pics, animal photos, artsy images, and of course plenty of documentation of carousing. But in terms of photo quality, the co-founders had a long way to go before reaching today’s levels of fastidiousness when it comes to composition, precision, and editing.

Happy sixth anniversary, Instagram! Thanks for bringing us the social media tool that defines the millennial generation.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com