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Early Memes

Last posted Dec 08, 2009 at 05:56PM EST. Added Aug 30, 2009 at 12:41PM EDT
21 posts from 11 users

When I was a small child in the late 80’s wandering around my parents’ offices, I noticed that many people had faxed around a poorly drawn picture of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes with a speech balloon reading, “God put me on earth to accomplish a certain numer of things. At this point, I’m so far behind, I will never die.”

Other instances of the Calvin cartoon had replaced the phrase with, “I have exactly one nerve left and YOU’RE GETTING ON IT”

Some had taken either of those phrases and used a picture of Bill the Cat from the old Outland cartoons.

In the 80’s there were fax memes. I’m willing to bet that there have been HAM radio memes and even telegraph memes to some extend.

There have been memes as long as there has been human culture. With each advance in communication, memes have manifested.

Read about the japanese monkeys that learned to wash their potatoes by imitating one in their group to get an idea of what prehistoric memes might have looked like. Also read about Kelloggs experiment in the 30s with bringing up a baby chimp with his son to learn what copycats we are compared to chimpanzees! (hint: his wife ordererd him to stop the experiment because the boy only imitated the chimp)

Probably more than ingenuity or planning, our ability to copy each other has given us culture. Our failure to imitate each other exactly all the time gives the variance needed for selection (although trial and error are problably needed as seeders).

@Jostin,

Yes I consider the Che meme old, but that’s not the problem. It’s a great meme that is very relevent to art history. The original image was very iconic. Warhol’s was image was influential as well. The image inspired many others to copy it, as all great works of art do.
The same goes for Nighthawks, and to a lesser extent “that’s what she said.”

But all of this happened well before the internet. And this is a site about Intenet Memes. There may be new instances created online today, but if the meme was already huge prior to or outside of the internet, it should not be classified as an Internet Meme.

@ Chris

Okay, I understand what you mean by that. Oh well, it’s an awesome meme nevertheless and I’m just happy I got through to making an entry of it. I’ll get to work on the internet meme I’m supposed to be working on in a couple of minutes, so expect another entry from me on the way (you already know what it is).

I remember when a video of a chimp scratching it’s butt, sniffing it’s finger, then falling out of the tree it was sitting in spread through e-mails some time in the 90’s. I wouldn’t be suprised if that chimp made it’s way to YouTube by now…

I’m not sure if it is quite memetic enough, but it was viral nonetheless

*A-ha!! Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeprCmg3Crg

ummm… im not sure, but CHEEEEEEEEEEEENN from touhou might be an early meme. i believe it started from the M1 comedy contest. not sure though

EDIT: Crap, do you mean like memes that are really old?

Skeletor-sm

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