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Did You Know: Instagram Started Life as a Check In App Named After Booze



Here’s a neat piece of photo trivia you can throw out the next time there’s a lull in conversation at a party: Instagram wasn’t originally called ‘Instagram.’ In fact, it wasn’t even a photo sharing app. Instagram was initially called ‘Burbn’ (after the Whiskey) and it was a check in app ala Foursquare.

This and many other little tidbits about what is now the most popular photo sharing app in the world are discussed in Keith Sawyer’s book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, in which he tells the story of Instagram’s humble beginnings, among other thing.


Burbn eventually became the photo sharing app we know today because it didn’t do so hot. People were using Burbn, but it did too many things and was too complicated. And so, Systrom brought on Mike Krieger and the duo started diving into the data to see what people were actually doing when they logged on.

It turns out, they were taking pictures… lots of them.


Systrom and Krieger went on to realize that there was a gap in the market. The Facebook app offered a great sharing experience without much photo functionality, and Hipstamatic offered a great mobile photo experience without easy sharing features. The app was redesigned to fill that gap, and the rest is history.

As for the name, there’s not much mystery there… Systrom likes whiskey. The app started as ‘Burbn’ and went through a filter-less buggy phase as ‘Scotch,’ before finally settling on Instagram.

(via The Atlantic)