The First Memes Ever Made

Ah, memes, the wonderful things that keep us alive. The internet is full of them: New memes, used memes, unknown memes, popular memes. But have you ever stopped to wonder: When did this weird trend begin? What were the first memes ever, and how did they transform into what we have today?

Hampster Dance -1999

The hampster dance is a (purposely misspelled) website filled with rows of dancing hamster gifs. The useless website was created by Canadian Diedre LeCarte in a competition to see who could create the most web traffic. Diedre did not expect to see the website blow up in 1999, becoming a very famous site to visit and overall meme. A song was eventually released in honor of the website, called the Hampster song, released by the Boomstrang Boys.


Demotivational Posters – 1998

This is an old, classic meme making fun of motivational posters by taking a twist on them. Many believe that the first “Demotivational posters” were made by the website Despair Inc.  Despair Inc. has created more than fifty demotivational posters and sells products like demotivational calendars and mugs. Ever since Despair Inc.

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“All your base are belong to us” -1998

This phrase became a popular thing to say in 1988, probably because of its hilarious grammar errors and overall randomness. The line was from the arcade game “Zero Wing.” and was a mistranslation from the Japanese version to its English release.

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Ooga Chaka baby -1996

The Ooga Chaka baby was a meme released in showing a animated baby dancing to “Hooked on a Feeling” by B.J. Thomas. This clip was made to demonstrate to capabilities of 3D software and occasionally appeared on broadcasts in 1996 and 1997. The image became so popular that it appeared in popular TV shows was spoofed on by the Simpsons. When YouTube started in 2005, the Ooga Chaka clip was swiftly uploaded and gained 3.3 million views over 11 years.

Photoshop – 1990

Ever since Photoshop’s official release in 1990, people have abused this app by making strange, obscure and hilarious memes. Different Photoshop memes include face swapping, photo insertions, and more. Unlike the other memes here, Photoshop memes are still used to this day.

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Richard Dawkins -1976

Exactly 20 years before the Ooga Chaka Baby, a man named Richard Dawkins published a book called “The Selfish Gene.” In a section of this book, Mr. Dawkins talks about the way information spreads through culture. Dawkins provides this image to prove a point:

On the left of the cartoon, a well-dressed attractive gentleman is captioned with "How you think you look when a flashlight is taken". On the right, an unattractive gentleman is captioned with "How you really look".

According to the date, this is the oldest known meme in history.

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