Wikipedia:Wikipedia's oldest articles

The January 15, 2001 edit by office.bomis.com is the earliest surviving edit in the current Wikipedia database.

This page describes the earliest edits and articles that are in the current English Wikipedia database.

ExplanationEdit

Wikipedia originally used UseModWiki (also known as Phase I software), which did not keep page history reliably, and often deleted it after a couple of weeks. It originally used CamelCase for making links, rather than the "free links" surrounded by brackets that are used today. Many pages were moved by cut and paste from CamelCase to regular titles, and some very early edits survive at these CamelCase titles; an example is this edit to SabBath by Larry Sanger. Some users have contributions under a CamelCase version of their username, such as JimboWales.

No history was imported from the UseModWiki era of Wikipedia when it migrated to the Phase II software, the predecessor to MediaWiki. Brion Vibber later imported all existing edits from UseModWiki to the current Wikipedia database (see Wikipedia:Usemod article histories). There is a copy of the Wikipedia database, with history up to 20 December 2001 UTC, at the Nostalgia Wikipedia, which contains several edits that cannot be found in the current Wikipedia database. In December 2009, it became possible to import revisions from the Nostalgia Wikipedia directly to the English Wikipedia.

Earliest surviving edits and other dataEdit

In December 2010, Wikipedia backups containing all edits from Wikipedia's inception to 17 August 2001 were discovered by Tim Starling, although many of these edits are not present in the current database. The earliest edit found was made to HomePage on 15 January 2001, reading "This is the new WikiPedia!" However, in 2010 Jimmy Wales stated that he made Wikipedia's first edit, a test edit to the homepage with the text "Hello, World!", after installing UseModWiki. This edit is not present in the older archives, and in 2011 Starling speculated that it may have been made on a test wiki that was later deleted. The HomePage edit was re-imported in 2019, and, upon being informed of this, Wales clarified that the "Hello, World!" edit was deleted manually from a hard drive; it remains unclear as to whether it had been made to a test wiki or to the modern Wikipedia.

Before the importation in 2019, no edits survived in the database from 15 January 2001, the day that Wikipedia was founded. Here is a list of edits that survive from the next day, 16 January. The list was compiled from an SQL query on the live database made in March 2004. The oldest such edit is listed first:

The oldest article for which there is no break in the history, either because of being changed into a redirect or a lack of surviving revisions, is Nupedia, which has an edit from 00:08, 17 January 2001 (UTC), after a history merge with the old title of "NuPedia" and imports from the Nostalgia Wikipedia and the August 2001 database dump. The oldest article that has this property without the use of old Wikipedia database dumps is William Alston, which has a revision from 00:13 (UTC) on the same day, five minutes later, after a history merge with the title "WilliamAlston". The oldest page where this occurred without intervention was List of female tennis players, which has a version from 6 February 2001.

The first consecutively-numbered revisions, such as Revision #1 and Revision #5, were among the first edits made after Wikipedia converted from UseModWiki to the Phase II software. (Edits made before Revision #1 have higher revision ID numbers, because they were imported later, as discussed above.)

Special:Ancientpages lists those pages that haven't been edited for the longest time. As of January 2020, the page was being updated periodically, and the oldest article listed was last edited in May 2010, meaning the article had remained unchanged for over nine years. Because it uses MediaWiki, all modern special pages work on the Nostalgia Wikipedia. The oldest entry on the ancientpages list on the Nostalgia Wikipedia is StandardPoodle, which has an entry from 17 January 2001. Similar functionality can also be found at Wikipedia:Database reports/Forgotten articles.

Archived copies of Wikipedia articles from early 2001Edit

The appearance of some Wikipedia articles in early 2001 has been preserved by the Wayback Machine. Early examples include GNUFreeDocumentationLicense and AccessibleComputing; Wayback's preserved versions are those of January 20. The front page from February 28 can also be viewed.

See alsoEdit