Wikipedia (lost initial edit of online encyclopaedia; existence unconfirmed; 2001)

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Recreation of the "Hello, World!" edit.

Status: Existence Unconfirmed

Wikipedia is an online open collaboration encyclopedia. Formed on 15th January 2001, it is the largest existing online reference and encyclopedia website and is famous for allowing anyone to edit it. The earliest recorded edit came on its founding day when an anonymous editor created "HomePage" with the text "This is the new WikiPedia!". However, co-founder Jimmy Wales has claimed that the first edit on Wikipedia was actually made by him, utilising the text "Hello, World!".


Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger.[1] Initially a spin-off of Nupedia,[2] an online encyclopedia that enabled subject experts to edit pages pending peer review,[3] it launched on 15th January 2001.[1] Since then, it has become the largest online encyclopedia ever, with Nupedia itself shutting down in 2003. Since its inception, Wikipedia now has over 55 million articles across over 300 languages.[3]

The First Edit Claim

Prior to 2019, it was believed that the oldest surviving edit on Wikipedia was made on 16th January 2001. A user operating on the server created the page UuU, which listed countries beginning with U.[4] But in 2019, an import of UseModWiki revisions discovered by Wikimedia developer Tim Starling in 2010 revealed that an edit was made on the day of Wikipedia's launch.[5] Made by a user utilising the server, the page HomePage was created with the text "This is the new WikiPedia!".[6] The reason HomePage and UuU are oddly titled is because UseModWiki only allowed for CamelCase links, which were the norm until 19th February 2001, when Wikipedia utilised free links.[7]

On 13th August 2019, users began to showcase to Wales what appeared to be the oldest edit on Wikipedia. However, Wales responded that there were even earlier edits than this. According to Wales, he experimented with UseModWiki and deleted several early Wikipedia edits on the hard drive. According to him, the first edit was on the HomePage, with the text "Hello, World!".[6] On 3rd December 2021, this claim gained traction when Wales announced he would be selling a non-fungible token (NFT) that re-created this edit.[8] It was sold on Christie's on 15th December for $750,000.[9]


The "Hello, World!" edit was first reported in an article by The Guardian on 13th January 2011.[10] Based on Wales' comments, the source for the original edit is permanently lost, because of how it was immediately wiped from the server, leaving no trace of its existence.[6][11] However, the legitimacy of the claim has been called into question.[12] Not long after The Guardian published the article, Joseph Reagle, a professor and prominent Wikipedia contributor, requested a source for the "Hello, World!" claim, stating that based on the Starling archive, the "This is the new WikiPedia!" was indeed the first, published at 19:27:13 pm.[13][11] Having created a website in December 2010 that contained the first known 10,000 edits,[14] Reagle again deduced in December 2021 that "This is the new WikiPedia!" was the first Wikipedia edit.[11]

Two other influential Wikipedians disputed Wales' claim. David Lindsey responded to Reagle's 2010 email, stating that the first edit likely occurred on the now-inaccessible wiki hosted on Nupedia, which was not originally known as Wikipedia. Thus, "Hello, World!" might have been the initial NupediaWiki edit, but not the first Wikipedia one.[15] Additionally, Starling noted a test wiki was created on 10th January 2001, which was deleted not long after its creation. Starling believes that while "Hello, World!" may have been the initial edit on that wiki, he is confident the first edit on Wikipedia while it was still utilising UseModWiki was "This is the new WikiPedia!".[16] He also provided a link where Sanger referred to this wiki.[17]

Further, Reagle analysed the original NFT and found an inaccuracy with the timestamp. Even if the edit did exist, the timestamp claimed it was made at 7:29 pm. This would mean it occurred after the "This is the new WikiPedia!" edit, which occurred at 7:27:13 PM.[13][11] However, Wales would later update the timestamp to show "6:29 pm", which if valid means it occurred 58 minutes before the first recorded edit.[11] It is unknown whether the 7:29 pm claim was made in error, nor whether the 6:29 pm timestamp is accurate if the edit even occurred on Wikipedia at all.




Christie's where Wales discussed the "Hello, World!" edit and the NFT.
Euronews reporting on the "Hello, World!" NFT.

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 BBC News detailing the founding of Wikipedia. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  2. Archived Nupedia-l where Sanger discussed a Nupedia spin-off that became Wikipedia. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Guardian detailing Wikipedia's growth and Nupedia's decline. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  4. Archived Telegraph article listing the UwU page as having the first Wikipedia edit. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  5. Foundation-l where Starling announced the discovery of old Wikipedia backups. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wikipedia Signpost reporting on Wales' "Hello, World!" claim and the "This is the new WikiPedia!". Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  7. Wikipedia essay detailing Wikipedia's usage of CamelCase. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  8. Gizmodo reporting on Wales selling an NFT of the "Hello, World!" edit. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  9. Christie’s announcing the "Hello, World!" NFT sold for $750,000. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  10. The Guardian reporting on the "Hello, World!" edit. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Reagle, where Reagle disputed the "Hello, World!" claim. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  12. Wikipediocracy discussing the legitimacy of the "Hello, World!" claim. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  13. 13.0 13.1 WikiEN-l where Reagle initially questioned the "Hello, World!" claim. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  14. Reagle where Reagle detailed creating a website containing the first known 10,000 Wikipedia edits. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  15. WikiEN-l where Lindsey disputed the "Hello, World!" claim and claimed it was likely an edit on the NupediaWiki. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  16. WikiEN-l where Starling claimed the "Hello, World!" edit was made on a deleted test wiki, not Wikipedia. Retrieved 30 Dec '21
  17. Archived Nupedia-I where Sanger discussed a test wiki Starling referred to. Retrieved 30 Dec '21