These Screengrabs Show David Karp Did NOT Invent The ‘Tumblelog’ That Gave Birth To Tumblr

Tumblr CEO David Karp did not invent the “tumblelog” system of blog design that led to Tumblr, according to The Daily Dot. Rather, he was inspired by two predecessor blog designs created by other people. In March 2005, a 17-year-old German high school student named Chris Neukirchen invented this tumblelog system, specifically for super-short blogging. He even used the term “tumblin'” on his site:

The only rule for tumblelogs was that they be a single paragraph — a rule that persists on many Tumblr formats today. Anarchaia was then followed by “Projectionist,” a blog project from two Americans, Marcel Molina and Sam Stephenson. Their format also used the “tumblelog” name:

In 2007, Molina received a message from Karp that he was publishing his first “Tumblr” tumbleblog, inspired by Projectionist:

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It’s important to point out that Karp didn’t “steal” Tumblr. His format was new and advanced the short-form blogging format in several ways. And, of course, he put in years of development work to make the formats customizeable for millions of users. But the Daily Dot’s history of Tumblr contains this rather depressing epilogue: To date, Karp and Molina haven’t spoken in about five years. In 2009, Molina was hired as Twitter’s 20th engineer and continues to work there. Neukirchen still lives in Germany, where he runs Trivium, a weekly blog. Meanwhile, the Yahoo acquisition will reportedly net Karp $250 million. The interviews with Molina and Neukirchen for this story were conducted over the past year, well before the Yahoo deal surfaced. I had asked both men if they felt any sort of resentment toward Karp for using their creations to build his blogging empire, and they’d said no. When I circled back after Yahoo’s deal, Neukirchen declined to comment, but Molina’s answer was the same: No. “The people who plant the seed are often forgotten through history,” Molina said. “Even though one could arguably associate substantial or equal credit to them. I’m not saying that’s what I want. I just think it’s interesting how the last one wins.”

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