On March 21st, 2006, 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST), Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent the very first message on Twitter. It wasn’t anything Earth-shattering, it was just a brief message saying, “just setting up my twttr”. And, yes, he really did mean to say “twttr.”

Three board members of the Odeo podcasting network found themselves in a creative slump.  Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey sat down to have a brainstorming session to try to get their creative juices flowing again, and they started playing with ideas for an SMS text messaging service they tentatively called “status.”  They saw it as a way to communicate short ideas to small groups of people, and that was part of the reason for messages being limited to 140 characters as text messages are limited to 160, and they needed those other 20 characters for data.

first tweetThe three men kept working out the kinks of the system, and eventually changed the name to “twttr”, the lack of vowels being an homage to the popular photo sharing site, Flickr.  The system was used internally at Odeo until July, 2006, and by Oct. of that year, the three founders, plus a few others formed a new company to purchase Odeo which held the intellectual property rights to Twitter as it was created while the men worked there.

The site gained some users, and was seeing around 20,000 “Tweets”, the nickname for messages on the site, per day until the wide introduction of the site at South by Southwest in 2007.  The traffic jumped to 60,000 messages a day overnight, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Twitter began to explode, and while it felt strain over the exponential growth, it seems to have found its footing over the past 12 months with the infamous Fail Whale, the image that shows up whenever there is a site error, showing up less and less.  The service is now handling more than 50 million messages a day, and next month the company will hold its first ever conference for software developers called “Chirp”.

What is missing from this site is that after $160 million in venture capital investments, there is still no concrete plan as to how it is going to make money.  It has made dribs and drabs from various sources, but nothing that comes close to the investments that have been made.  It has been speculated that at the Chirp conference it will finally be announced that the company is launching an advertising platform, but that is still unconfirmed at this time.

So, four years down, and hopefully many more to go.  What do you see as the future of Twitter?

And while we’re on the subject, don’t forget to check out all of the TechnoBuffalo staff on Twitter via this handy list.