Celebrate YouTube’s Anniversary With Some Of Its Best Videos Over The Past 8 Years

4/24/13 1:42PM EST

youtube Celebrate YouTubes Anniversary With Some Of Its Best Videos Over The Past 8 Years

A 20-second video of elephants at the zoo, rather dull by most accounts, made history eight years ago on April 23. The video, which would have otherwise meant little-to-nothing to anyone other than the person featured in it and possibly his family, was the first to ever be downloaded to YouTube on April 24, 2005. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s hard to remember a time when the video sharing site didn’t entertain us and share all of life’s moments with the entire world. But the domain name YouTube.com was inactive prior to February 2005. Once it was selected by three former PayPal employees, the site was developed during the following two months, and the public got its first preview of the site that May. By the summer of 2006, YouTube became one of the fastest-growing sites on the Web with more than 65,000 new videos and 100 million views a day.

YouTube exploded after Google purchased it for $1.65 billion in late 2006, and by 2007 it was estimated that YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire World Wide Web did in 2000. The same year, the YouTube Awards were given for the first time, honoring the best videos of the year as voted by the YouTube community.

Following are some of the best videos from the past eight years:

There may not be much to it, but a “Best Of” YouTube list can’t be complete without the video that started it all, “Me at the Zoo.” Albeit rather unimpressive compared to more modern videos, the first video ever downloaded to YouTube was something of an anomaly at the time: April 24, 2005. The video depicts then 25-year-old YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim in front of the elephants at the San Diego Zoo.  It has since been viewed more than 10 million times.

In 2006, comedian Jud Laipply took up through the history of popular dances, from “the Twist,” to “the Robot,” to “the Running Man.” One of the first YouTube videos to go viral, the video has now been viewed more than 212 million times.

Without YouTube, the world may never have been introduced to Justin Bieber. His mother started downloading videos of his local performances back in 2007—mainly for family and friends—when Justin was just 12, including this first-ever performance download. But “the Biebs” was soon discovered by a talent agent through the YouTube videos and by 2010 his smash hit “Baby” broke records and made him a star. “Baby” is the second-most viewed YouTube video of all time with more than 850 million plays.

Cat videos have become some of YouTubes most popular. In 2007 Charlie Schmidt downloaded what is now considered the “original” cat video, his keyboard-playing cat, now viewed more than 30 million times.

A personal favorite, PBS Digital Studios published this video in 2012, demonstrating the artistic side of YouTube. “Mister Rogers Remixed: Garden of Your Mind,” has only been viewed 8.5 million times in the past year, but it’s a true masterpiece.

No YouTube chronology would be complete without Psy’s “Gangham Style.” The breakout sensation uploaded last July still holds the record for most views with 1.5 billion and counting. The video launched the career of the Korean rapper, as well as a world-wide dance sensation.