Little Bits of History

Jerry Did Good

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 12, 2010

Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo! fame

April 12, 1996: “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” goes public for the first time. The Initial Public Offering [IPO] sold shares for $13 at the beginning of the day, peaking at $43, and closing at $33, raising $33.8 million. The website was started in January 1994 while its creators were students at Stanford University and was incorporated on March 2, 1995. Their hobby blossomed while they worked out of a trailer. Their lists of favorite sites on the Internet became too large, too long, too complicated. They set up categories, then subcategories and then, became their new business.

You say you’ve never heard of this? Sure you have. The founders, David Filo and Jerry Yang changed the name to a backronym [acronyms that are created to form the letters for a word that one already has in mind] for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. Or Yahoo! The two men insist they picked the name because it means “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth.”

Yang was born in Taiwan and came to the US when he was eight, knowing only one word in English – shoe. He went on to earn BS and MS degrees from Stanford University. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. His degrees are in electrical engineering. Filo was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Louisiana. His BS degree is from Tulane University. He parlayed his computer engineering degree into a MS from Stanford. Both men are currently on leave from Yahoo! (although both remain Chief Yahoos!) and are working towards their PhDs in electrical engineering. Both are students at Stanford.

At its IPO, there were a total of 49 employees working for Yahoo! Today there is a global network which includes 25 world properties and serves 345 million individuals each month. Yahoo! is a portal, an email service, instant messaging service, message boards, chats, news service, games, shopping, search engine, and Yahoo! groups. Ten years later, they claim they are the number one Internet brand and reach the largest audience worldwide.

“The internet is not for sissies.” – Paul Vixie

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” – Mitchell Kapor

“It’s been my policy to view the Internet not as an ‘information highway,’ but as an electronic asylum filled with babbling loonies.” – Mike Royko

“What, exactly, is the Internet?  Basically it is a global network exchanging digitized data in such a way that any computer, anywhere, that is equipped with a device called a “modem” can make a noise like a duck choking on a kazoo.” – Dave Barry

Also on this day, in 1955 Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was approved.

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