YouTube's fifth birthday

It's hard to believe that YouTube, which now streams more than 1bn videos a day, only registered its domain name five years ago

People who want to see the latest viral videos, very old TV commercials and pop videos, great sporting moments or almost anything else that can be delivered in a brief video, will usually turn to YouTube, which now serves up more than 1bn streams a day.

YouTube has become so engrained in everyday life online that we now take it for granted, but it didn't even exist five years ago. The startup registered its internet domain name,, on 14 February 2005, as co-founder and chief executive Chad Hurley recalled on the company blog yesterday.

However, it was still some way from providing a service, and YouTube wasn't officially launched until December. No doubt there will be more fifth birthday celebrations then.

Although there were other online video services around at the time, YouTube took off. It made it easy to upload and view videos, and also to embed them on blogs and other web sites, so you didn't have to go to YouTube to watch them: it was "like Flickr for videos". Google bought the company for $1.65bn in 2006, less than a year after its launch, but is still working on ways to make money out of it.

YouTube has upset some movie studios, TV stations, music companies and other content providers because users often upload clips that they may regard as violations of their copyrights, rather than as free publicity. However, it has also helped lots of ordinary people to reach a vast audience, and achieve some species of fame.

YouTube's most-watched video at the moment is "Charlie bit my finger", which has been viewed 160m times. Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance is now trailing in second place with 137m views, ahead of Miley Cyrus's music video for 7 Things (110m).

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