Digital Life

Videos that Put on the Map

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  • Transcript began as a classic Silicon Valley start-up began as a classic Silicon Valley start-up in a garage -- recently bought the site for $1.65 billion. Jerry Arcieri/Corbis hide caption

toggle caption Jerry Arcieri/Corbis

The rise of from upstart Web site to the Internet's top destination for video happened so fast that it seemed to all but the most obsessive Web surfers to spring up from nowhere.

Launched in August 2005, wasn't the first Web site with video archives. But what set apart was the site's ability to make it easy for technophobes to upload videos to the site and find and view what others uploaded.

The site's slogan may be "Broadcast Yourself," but a big part of the appeal may be the many clips taken from popular television shows or films that find their way into the archives. Visitors to the site view more than 100 million videos every day.

Slate contributor Paul Boutin reviews some of the videos that became wildly popular and helped spark more interest in the site:

Jon Stewart appears on 'Crossfire'

Jon Stewart on Crossfire

The host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show appeared on the now-defunct CNN shout-fest Crossfire, and his plea to the hosts to "stop hurting America" was riveting. More people reportedly saw the exchange online than saw it on CNN.

Lazy Sunday

'Lazy Sunday' from 'Saturday Night Live'

In December 2005, was flooded with bootlegged copies of the Saturday Night Live gangsta rap parody, "Lazy Sunday." For many new fans, this was the moment they got hooked.

Stephen Colbert addresses the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Some who witnessed this over-the-top roasting of President Bush in April 2006 said it simply wasn't funny, but millions of visitors made it a sensation in the days that followed.

Evolution of Dance

Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance

Far and away the most watched clip on, this six-minute comedy dance routine has been viewed more than 35 million times since the comedian and motivational speaker posted it in April 2006.



In September 2006, diligent YouTubers cracked the cover of actress Jessica Rose, who posted confessional videos as "Bree," a supposed real-life teenager. Once revealed as a fictional creation, her popularity on plunged.

Steve Chen and Chad Hurley

A Message from Chad and Steve founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley announced their $1.65-billion acquisition by with their own home-grown clip.



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