Time travel to 2005: Where was the first YouTube video filmed?

Samantha McGarry October 18, 2020
Time travel to 2005: Where was the first YouTube video filmed?

Where was the first YouTube video filmed? YouTube’s first ever upload happened almost 15 and a half years ago this week – 23 April 2005 to be precise. The video has a simplicity that makes the viewer nostalgic for the mid-2000s.

Me At The Zoo

The first ever YouTube video features YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim. It’s an 18-second video entitled Me At The Zoo. It features elephants feeding while children call and react in the background. 

Karim tells us about the elephants: “The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks.

“That’s cool… and that’s pretty much all there is to say.”

The video remains on YouTube and has been viewed more than one billion times. In fact 116,206,114 to be precise at the time of writing. 

Compare this with the most watched video on YouTube – Despacito by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee. It has had more than seven billion views so far and counting.

Before YouTube was a normal part of life, it may have been the video’s simplicity that made the site such a draw. It encouraged people to share their own tales with each other and the world without having to be an expert.

Where was the first YouTube video filmed?

It was shot at San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, California. The zoo recognises the iconic moment, commenting below the video: “We’re so honoured that the first ever YouTube video was shot here!”

The zoo has many livecams of its own now, though not via YouTube! They provide a welcome alternative for those unable to visit during lock-down restrictions.

Who is the video’s star, Jawed Karim?

Jawed Karim is a software engineer born in Merseburg in former East Germany. His family moved to Neuss in the west of the country in the early 1980s blaming xenophobia, as Karim’s father is Bangladeshi. 

While studying at the University of Illinois, Karim began working at PayPal in its early days. He designed its real-time anti-internet-fraud system. He holds a Masters degree in computer science from Stanford University.

While at PayPal Karim met fellow YouTube founders Steven Chen and Chad Hurley. They created YouTube in 2005. A year later, they sold it to Google in an all-stock deal worth about $1.65 billion.

Karim revisited his zoo video in 2013 to voice dissatisfaction at Google’s insistence on a Google+ account and the use of real names to be able to comment on videos. 

He updated the description of Me At The Zoo to say: “I can’t comment here any more since I don’t want a Google+ account.”

While Google+ may have faded away, YouTube appears more popular than ever – a centre for music, film, sport and, of course, oddities, curiosities and homemade gems.

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