John Overholt, Curator of Early Modern Books & Manuscripts at Harvard's Houghton Library, just launched a fascinating blog called "First Drafts of History," featuring the earliest extant versions of Wikipedia articles.
Here's the first entry for Star Trek (dated September 2001):
Barack Obama (dated March 2014):
And "IPhone" (dated June 2005 – two years before the iPhone's release):
The amateurish tone of some of these is kind of incredible, especially when held up against the thoroughly cited (and thoroughly revised) nature of their latter day counterparts. This disparity obviously has as much to do with these being the earliest known entries for these subjects as it does with the inchoate status of Wikipedia, itself (at the time of the first Star Trek posting, Wikipedia had been operational for less than a year), but it's a fascinating contrast, nonetheless.
What I enjoy most about this tumblr is what it reveals about the timeline of modern events, namely how condensed it seems. The rate at which our perception of the present, and recent history, is altered – through progress, adaptation, and revision – is mind-boggling.
We look forward to following this one. "I had no idea it would be such a hit," tweeted Overholt. "I better go add some more posts."
H/t John Overholt