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

  • How old is Stack Overflow?
  • What did the first version of Stack Overflow look like and how much has it evolved since?
  • How many days/months did it take to build the first Stack Overflow?
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6 Answers 6

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How old is Stack Overflow?

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

What did the first version of Stack Overflow 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 Stack Overflow?

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).

Details

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

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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, 2009 at 5:58
  • 6
    6-8 weeks for such a massive piece of work!! It's amazing!!
    – Kevin Boyd
    Sep 14, 2009 at 6:02
  • 4
    @Aeon it's not actually 6-8 weeks, that is an ongoing joke here. See the revised answer.
    – Rex M
    Sep 14, 2009 at 6:03
  • 2
    @AeonFlux - All those question and more are answered in the Podcast. blog.stackoverflow.com. Lot's of listening, since they have about 67 of them already. Sep 14, 2009 at 7:41
  • 1
    This answer may be out of date.
    – gerrit
    Mar 9, 2020 at 15:33
263

This is what Stack Overflow used to look like back in the day.

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

1970's

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

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  • 11
    You just gotta love Lynx. Any Windows versions around? Sep 15, 2009 at 7:44
  • 58
    psh, better than the current design Aug 13, 2016 at 19:28
  • 2
    @BinaryMisfit You’re not dialing into a bulletin board service and browsing from there?
    – binki
    Jan 17, 2018 at 21:04
  • 2
    Is this what they called a "fax machine" from like 100 years ago?
    – Carrosive
    Jan 23, 2018 at 10:18
148

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

screenshot of stack overflow homepage back in September 15, 2008

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? stackoverflow.uservoice.com" 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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  • 12
    You forgot the star: It has degraded to a diamond since then. Poor star.
    – balpha StaffMod
    Sep 14, 2009 at 13:22
  • What was the star for?
    – Kevin Boyd
    Sep 15, 2009 at 15:40
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    @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. Sep 15, 2009 at 16:23
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    I think ♦ is better for other reasons too. It conveys the information, but is more "modest", or something.
    – Jonik
    Sep 28, 2009 at 9:37
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    Ah a moderation for a more modest moderator. Jan 18, 2018 at 17:24
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    "It looks mostly the same today" — this statement is out of date.
    – gerrit
    Mar 9, 2020 at 15:40
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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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  • 35
    awww, the Community user corrected their own address
    – Helmar
    Jan 17, 2018 at 15:29
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    Its only badge: "Not a Robot"!
    – merv
    Jan 17, 2018 at 19:43
  • 1
    Last seen Aug 26 '08 at 0:16
    – RBT
    May 7, 2018 at 5:46
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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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  • Note on the favicon-the stackoverflow blog still has a white background Jan 21, 2018 at 21:24
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You should look at stackoverflow.com as it looked in the year 2000. Now that's interesting! (It redirected to www.mozquito.org; the company behind that project apparently was some Stack Overflow AG).

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