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I have read this but I can't seem to find the following answers...

  • How old is StackOverflow?
  • What did the first version of StackOverflow look like and how much has it evolved since?
  • How many days/months did it take to build the first StackOverflow?
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I think it looked like this: – tvanfosson Sep 14 '09 at 17:36
Technically, the ORIGINAL stack overflow happened about 13.7 billion years ago: – gnostradamus Sep 14 '09 at 20:37
up vote 31 down vote accepted

How old is StackOverflow?

The private beta for SO launched July 31st-ish 2008. The public beta started September 15th, 2008.

What did the first version of StackOverflow look like and how much has it evolved since?

Aesthetically it hasn't really changed. Visually very small, incremental enhancements have been added periodically. Most of the work happens at the functionality level.

How many days/months did it take to build the first StackOverflow?

6–8 weeks

(That's a joke, AFAIK it started ~April/May and the beta launched end of July, so pre-beta work was ~16 weeks, and continuous additions and refinements since then).


Found under the entry "Stack Overflow Beta Design" is an early (pre-beta) image of the design:

Beta blocked

Fall down into the comments and Jeff mentions this version:

alpha no mega?

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I guess this could be another question? How did the 3 plan StackOverflow? what kind of visualization tools helped them in laying out the plans for SO? – Kevin Boyd Sep 14 '09 at 5:58
6-8 weeks for such a massive piece of work!! It's amazing!! – Kevin Boyd Sep 14 '09 at 6:02
@Aeon it's not actually 6-8 weeks, that is an ongoing joke here. See the revised answer. – Rex M Sep 14 '09 at 6:03
@AeonFlux - All those question and more are answered in the Podcast. Lot's of listening, since they have about 67 of them already. – BinaryMisfit Sep 14 '09 at 7:41

This is what StackOverflow used to look like back in the days.

Yeah we had enter all of our ip packets manually man.. You kids don't know.


This whole black and white thing was pure luxery after the black-only monitor that I had before.

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You just gotta love Lynx. Any Windows versions around? – BinaryMisfit Sep 15 '09 at 7:44

To add to the other screenshots, this is what Stack Overflow looked like when the public beta started on September 15:

It looks mostly the same today - the differences I see are:

  • lack of ignored/interesting tags
  • lack of "Unanswered" button at the top
  • red "This is a public beta. Found a bug? Want to make a feature request?" text at the top
  • lack of a gray background behind the top menu
  • top menu aligned with the logo, not the search bar
  • search bar doesn't have or the word "search", replaced with button labeled "Search"
  • lack of curved edges on the badges
  • moderator status is indicated by a star, not a diamond as it is now (thanks, balpha!)
  • sections on the side have a grey background
  • "Recent Tags" section has "popular tags »" at the bottom instead of "all tags »"
  • "Newest" tab instead of "active", no "featured" tab, "hot", "week", and "month" are capitalized
  • text for view count is darker, text for vote count is lighter
  • formatting error causes the divider between "Replacing Virtual PC/Server...." and "How to capturing crash logs in Java" to not show up
  • divider between questions is solid, as opposed to the current dotted divider (I'm not 100% on this as it could be a side effect of the poor quality of the screenshot)
  • questions are slightly indented - notice how the votes box doesn't line up with the edge of the dividers
  • views section is slightly wider (not 100% on this either, but it looks wider to me)
  • times are not abbreviated (i.e. "3 minutes ago" instead of "3m ago", "an hour ago" instead of "1h ago", etc)
  • usernames have mini-Gravatars next to them

are there any more?

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You forgot the star: It has degraded to a diamond since then. Poor star. – balpha Sep 14 '09 at 13:22
What was the star for? – Kevin Boyd Sep 15 '09 at 15:40
@AeonFlux: The star indicated moderator status in the same way that the diamond ♦ does today. The switch was made because the star, as an image, didn't scale well. – Kyle Cronin Sep 15 '09 at 16:23
I think ♦ is better for other reasons too. It conveys the information, but is more "modest", or something. – Jonik Sep 28 '09 at 9:37

You can always check StackOverflow's age by looking at the Community User.

It was born the same day as StackOverflow.

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You should look at as it looked in the year 2000. Now that's interesting! (It redirected to; the company behind that project apparently was some Stack Overflow AG).

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The trademark owned by Stack Overflow AG, STACK OVERFLOW, was cancelled on 2008-09-05: – Peter Mortensen Apr 12 '10 at 18:45
Yes, the Wayback Machine is very useful. Here's a teaser that was up early in 2008: – Al E. Sep 25 '12 at 13:03

I have located the earliest live version of Stack Overflow available from the Internet Archive: 2008-09-15T10:33:43Z. This is the public beta. (The preceding snapshot is of a math cartoon.)

Interesting tidbit: back then, the favicon had a white background; now it's transparent (Firefox 16 on Linux):
Old | New

It didn't look like much (but I guess the CSS probably wasn't archived properly):
Old SO

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