Ten Unforgettable Web Memes- page 1 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
Chuck Norris became an Internet sensation when late night host Conan O'Brien featured clips from "Walker, Texas Ranger" on his show. (© Cannon / courtesy Everett Collection)

Ten Unforgettable Web Memes

Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream. Which ones did we miss?

Dancing Baby (1996)

Dancing Baby
(YouTube)
Before high-speed internet connections allowed the transfer of videos and large image files, animated GIFs (graphics interchange format) were how memes spread virally. The lithe dancing baby, alias Baby Cha Cha, was born in mid-1996 and its 10-second set of boogaloo moves became one of the earliest Internet sensations. Created by software publisher Kinetix, the silent animated GIF was re-imagined by some early web developers as a Rastafarian. Other web-savvy surfers designed a version of the baby tossing back a drink while others set the original animation to music. Television executives took note and incorporated the baby into the hit-1990s show “Ally McBeal” as a hallucinatory reminder that the title character’s biological clock was ticking—but to that driving “ooga chacka” beat from Blue Swede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling.” -- JR

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