Randall Colburn writing for The A.V. Club:
“We didn’t used to watch everything on computer screens, but that started changing in 2003 with “End Of The World,” a 90-second cartoon about nuclear annihilation that’s considered by many to be the first viral video.”
I stopped reading at this point because I was hung up on remembering how popular “Dancing Baby” became (it certainly escaped “90s nerd Internet” as I remember it being all over the television news media.) While Know Your Meme has pages for both “Dancing Baby” and “End Of The World” it does not seem to have a comprehensive timeline of so-called viral videos. (For example, I’m fairly sure “Star Wars Kid” pre-dates “End of The World” by a few months even.)
The point of this post isn’t to wag a finger at Randall for misremembering (or not knowing) Web meme history. Instead I find it a shame we don’t have a commonly agreed upon source of “truth” for this type of cultural archaeology.