Before Farmville, there were real farms. Before Facebook, people had faces and books. It’s easy to assume many of our internet trends started with the Internet, but it turns out at least one of the most popular internet memes had a history long before the Internet.
If you think the notion to put cute slogans on top of photographs of kittens originated with the internet, think again. Even in the 1870s, humans were obsessed with ridiculous photos of cats.
Long before dogs began playing poker on velvet paintings, the dignity of the domesticated feline was doomed. Probably the first person to blame for silly cat pictures was English photographer Harry Pointer, who snapped approximately 200 photos of his perplexed, albeit jovial, Brighton cats.
Pointer often arranged his cats in poses that mimic human activity. A cat riding a tricycle or cats roller skating was what people loved. Harry Pointer soon realized that even a relatively straightforward cat photograph could be turned into an amusing or appealing image by adding a written caption.
So, the next time you see a viral picture of a kitten hanging on for dear life with the caption, “hang in there, baby, Friday’s coming,” keep in mind that he’s been hanging in there for a long time.