hashtag tracking history

Tracking the History of Hashtags, or Historical Hashtag Tracking

You’ll have to excuse the wordplay in the title, but we just couldn’t resist! Hashtag tracking is a recent development, as the “hashtag” as an identifier has its origins in 1970 assembly language, to denote “immediate address mode”. It was called a “hash symbol” way back then.

In 1978 it was used in the C programming language for special keywords, and later used in IRC networks to label groups and topics. Chris Messina, an Open Source Advocate, is credited with the first hashtag tweet in Twitter, when he said:

how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?
—Chris Messina, (“factoryjoe”), August 23, 2007

Stowe Boyd coined the term “hash tag” in 2007, when he wrote a blog post about “Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings”. And in 2009, Twitter started to hyperlink all hashtags in tweets to Twitter search results. “Trending Topics” were introduced in 2010.


Since then hashtags have taken off in all social media, appear on products, in television broadcasts, political events, and on advertising. Brands such as Gatorade have begun registering hashtag phrases, although there is some debate in legal circles whether hashtag trademark registering will hold up in court – especially when it represents a phrase that is considered common language (someone named Donald Trump tried to trademark “You’re Fired” years ago, and lost the case).


Emplify tracks hashtags in both Twitter and Instagram. Try it out for free here.