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Happy Birthday Twitter! Microblogging Site Celebrates 5th Birthday

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- It's been five years since Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of sent out the first experimental tweet: "Inviting coworkers."

That's all it said.

This July 15 marks the five-year anniversary since became a public website, and like every Tweet since, Dorsey's was limited to 140 characters.

Since then, celebrities from Lady Gaga to Charlie Sheen to President Obama (or the staffers tweeting on his behalf) have mastered the highly truncated form of language that Twitter has made popular; others (think of Rep. Anthony Weiner) have been less adroit.

Twitter is now the 9th-most-visited site worldwide, according to the Web-tracking service Alexa. Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo may get more users, but they can't top Twitter for the sheer number of messages sent.

As of last week, Twitter said users were sending 200 million tweets per day, up from 2 million in January 2009. If you printed that on paper, at a rate of 20 tweets per page, it would fill the equivalent of 8,163 copies of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, the company said.

Despite the flighty name and the forced brevity of the messages, Twitter has become a major, and often serious, medium. From the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the uprising in Egypt, it has been a way for people to connect, share links to pictures and news stories, or watch what is collectively on the world's mind.

And of course, it's become the gathering place for the rabid followers of pop culture icons.

Ashton Kutcher won the race to become the first Twitter member to 1 million followers, but he's since been passed by a few pop stars, a reality TV queen, and one commander in chief.

Twitter's San Francisco staff has not done much publicly to mark the day; they had more of a celebration in March, the five-year mark from when they put the site online for so-called beta testing. That kind of thing is common with tech startups; Google says it celebrates its anniversary on different days in September, "depending on when people feel like having cake."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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