4chan history

From Jonathan's Reference Pages


4chan.org is the website that introduced the imageboard concept to the English-speaking world.

4chan was founded in 2003 by a kid from an IRC channel I visited at the time. It got popular purely by accident and when costs began to spiral out of control we told him the site was doomed to failure. If I had known it one day become a dominant source of Internet culture with five hundred million pageviews per month and an Alexa Traffic Rank in the global top 1,000 websites, I might have written more of this down at the time.

The origin of 4chan

4chan really goes back to a board called Something Awful, a major source of Internet culture in the early '00s. Some time between 18th April 2001 and 15th May 2001, SA added an anime board called ADTRW to separate the anime chat from the other boards. Members of ADTRW started Raspberry Heaven, a DC++ filesharing hub for anime, named for the ending theme to a 2002 series called Azumanga Daioh. Raspberry Heaven was itself a spinoff of SADCHUB, the Something Awful Direct Connect Hub, created to separate the anime from the serious business.

The Raspberry Heaven anime hub had a linked IRC channel, originally at the MircX network but later Pyoko IRC. Here, moot and several ADTRW members were regulars. RH discovered 2chan.net, a Japanese image board, and for a while the channel was full of 2chan image links. 2chan itself is named after 2channel (2ch.net), the unrelated text-based image board featured in the film and TV series Densha Otoko.

At some point, 2chan blocked non-Japanese from posting. At the time we thought this was to keep out us English-posting gaijin devils, but I think it later turned out they were blocking trolls from South Korea. moot, at this point just an average hub member, registered the site's original domain, 4chan.net.

<moot> regging 4CHAN.net
<moot> FOUR CHAN
<moot> brace for faggotry
<Negi-Sensei> What is the difference between 4chan and 2chan?
<n0> 2
<Lost_Technology> 4chan is twice as good.
<moot> its TWO TIMES THE CHAN MOTHERFUCK
<Lost_Technology> Did someone seriously register 4chan?
<n0> Time for 8chan.

According to Everything Shii Knows, moot registered 4chan.net on 29th September 2003. The first news post dates the site as opening two days later on 1st October. RH went from full of 2chan links to full of 4chan links. I remember pasting links in other channels, too. The ease of which a person could post content and share links like this was a major factor in the success of 4chan, and other top websites later replicated this model: Youtube (video), Imageshack (long-term image storage), and Rapidshare (files).

4chan drew many of its initial users from Raspberry Heaven and Something Awful's ADTRW board. Early 4chan thus inherited a lot of the Something Awful humour and memes, like image macros. The original 4chan staff and moderators were drawn from ADTRW. The spinning head title image is an Australian ADTRW member called Roobar. The "Dot net fo'shizzle!" title image is by ADTRW poster Rick_Feynman, who coined the term "ZOMG!" (we pronounce it "Zoh my god!") in an ICQ conversation with fellow SA goon Hannibal (see also this 2003 USENET posting); although they admit the term was used before then, it wasn't widely used until popularized by Something Awful and 4chan.

moot later left Raspberry Heaven, as he was cool for us. Raspberry Heaven DC hub would close some years later as BitTorrent took over from filesharing hubs and Pyoko IRC closed its doors.

* Quits: moot (HELLO@ool-44c644df.dyn.optonline.net) 
<cathead> moot has left us 
<cathead> what do we have left to live for 
<microwiz> let's go waste more of his bandwidth

Board titles

I didn't keep track of the order in which 4chan boards were launched. The following list is collected mainly from 4chan news posts and web archives.

Boards sharing a letter

Several boards have used the same letter as another board at a different point in time. Usually, this occurs when a single-letter board is deleted and its letter is later re-used.

Secret boards

There were two secret boards I knew of. The first was /5/, which was for posting pictures of 5. The second was /z/, an exile board detailed at Everything Shii Knows.

Further information

Everything Shii Knows has an article on 4chan.

Errors and omissions

Please e-mail a comment to add information or corrections.


Page created: 4th February 2010. Last updated: 19th January 2011.