July 2006: Twttr is available to the public
On July 16th Twitter opens to the general public to use its service.
September 2006: Twitter introduces its API
What was initially introduced because two small services requested it, is now the very heart of Twitter’s development. Over 100,000 Apps are now making good use of Twitter’s API.
October 2006: Sign Up for Twitter without your phone number
An interesting announcement is that from that point onwards you could sign up for Twitter without giving away your phone number. Seems small, but it should marks a major change in how Twitter would be used largely: via the web interface instead of real SMS.
December 2006: The first person to get fired on Twitter
It was Sam Sethi, a TechCrunch writer who got fired from Arrington. Here are the details:
February 2007: Your Twitter username is in the center
Twitter makes the Twitter user name more prominent and lets it stand out from normal names. A tiny development back then, which now marks the core characteristic for every Twitter user. What would you be without your Twitter username?
March 2007: Twitter’s first tipping point at SXSW
During the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, the usage of Twitter reaches a first tipping point. It increases from 20,000 daily messages to 60,000 daily messages.
April 2007: Twitter gets incorporated
Twitter is finally incorporated. It was previously owned and operated by Obvious, LCC, but as of April 18, it is a stand alone company.
May 2007: You can block others and Twitter gets a mobile site
Twitter gets its first mobile site and introduces the “Block” feature. Oh and I was actually never fully aware that blocking someone would do this: “Blocking someone means that you (and your pic) will not appear on the blocked person’s friends list, profile page, friends timeline, badge, or anywhere else.”
May 2007: Twitter gets an @replies column
Twitter gets @replies. To me, this is one of the biggest changes to date. People were finally able to see all their @mentions in a new column.
June 2007: Dell joins Twitter and paves the way for Twitter for businesses
Dell joins Twitter. This isn’t big news as such. Yet I like to see it as the very first attempt to use Twitter effectively from a business standpoint. Dell was tweeting their business deals ever since then mark one of the most successful Twitter appearances.
July 2007: Get Twitter “Followers”
From this date onwards your friends on Twitter were defined as followers. If you follow someone, you will receive their updates sent via Twitter. Pretty nifty, right
August 2007: Twitter Profile Search goes live
From then onwards you could search usernames based on criteria such as location, name and more. It wasn’t until later that search.twitter.com would go live.
September 2007: Tracking Twitter alias #Hashtags goes live
A very interesting development from Twitter they back then called “Tracking”. Who would have ever guessed that this would become so popular and eventually turn into the powerful #hashtags? It used to only work on mobiles and you could “track” or “untrack” certain topics. Great feature.
November 2007: Twitter appears in CSI
Not really a big announcement, but rather funny. It was not the first time that Twitter was mentioned on TV, but the popular CSI show certainly marks a major breakthrough. Twitter was used to solve the case. Watch it below:
February 2008: Reply to others immediately
Twitter gets the “swoosh” function so you can reply to tweets with just one click.
April 2008: Twitter launches in Japan
Usage of Twitter in Japan soared very early after Twitter’s US launch. It was therefore no surprise that Twitter launched the first non-english version in Japan.
July 2008: Twitter moves into their new HQ
The ongoing issue with Twitter’s downtime should be solved with a new Headquarter, faster servers and more space for employees. Not everything turned out as planned.
September 2008: Twitter gets Trending Topics
Especially important, as it is to become one of the possible sources of making money through Twitter. Promoted topics is soon to be implemented thereafter.
March 2009: Twitter introduces “Suggested Users”
Another feature which might appear small marks a very important one for Twitter. It should become another place to start monetizing the service.
October 2009: Twitter launches Twitter Lists
As follower numbers grow and overseeing them gets more and more difficult the launch Twitter’s new feature is crucial: Twitter Lists.
November 2009: Orange launches first Photosharing service for Twitter
The very first player in today’s hotly discussed photosharing services was Orange.
November 2009: Twitter unveils the new native RT function
Twitter introduces its Retweet function. Many users have since then seen this with mixed feelings. The fact that native RTs aren’t shown in some streams is tricky. Most clients however give you a way to see RTs.
February 2010: Twitter unveils its staggering growth figures to the world
At the beginning of 2010 it was clear that Twitter turned into a big player of the Social Media game.
March 2010: You can now add your location to your Tweets
One of the big promises for Twitter’s future is location. Over a year ago Twitter added the functionality to add your location to Tweets, making the appearance of individuals more local again.
April 2010: Twitter launches “Promoted Tweets”
A feature that is said to mark Twitter’s long-term success is Promoted Tweets. The company hopes to have finally found a from of monetization.
August 2010: Twitter Launches their own Tweet Button
September 2010: Twitter introduces the “New Twitter”
It means a new design of the Twitter.com interface. The tie-in with photosharing services such as TwitPic or video platforms such as Youtube. It also includes the related content feature and new miniprofiles when clicking on a username.
October 2010: Twitter starts to push “Promoted Accounts” live
The company, under the leadership of Dick Costolo is determined to finally make money. Another feature to attempt this is “Promoted Accounts”
May 2011: Twitter launches the Follow Button
A very recent announcement was Twitter’s follow button you can now install on websites. A great way of making it easy with new people to connect with you.
May 2011: Twitter launches its own photosharing service
Another big development is the fact that Twitter is planning to roll out its own photosharing services. This not only brings a lot of existing services under fierce pressure, but may also create another massive opportunity to monetize Twitter’s service.
June 2011: Twitter gets integrated into iOS 5
A development which is fantastic proof that Twitter has truly become a firm part of many people’s lives. That Apple admits this in such a firm way makes the future of Twitter look bright.
June 2011: Twitter launches its own link shortening service
Yet to be shown for each and every account Twitter’s own link shortening service has been tested heavily and many users were able to try it out.
I hope this has given a brief overview of how Twitter evolved in terms of its features from the outset in 2006 until today. Of course there were many more updates and I tried to really only pick out the key points.
With the product focused Dick Costolo in charge we can expect many more features and improvements that the company is baking.
All of the above was just me scouring threw the archives on Twitter’s blog. I highly recommend taking a look, there is a ton of great material there. Also, big thanks to Dave alias @TweetSmarter for the inpspiration to take on Twitter’s past in terms of announcements and features.