With most startups, the founders usually write down their idea on paper, draw something, write down a list or whatever else founders like to do. It's always good to get things down on paper so you can see it evolve and change, and show to others.
Show to others is what Jack Dorsey did. The picture above has been pulled from his Flickr account where he shared one of the first sketches of Twitter. On paper it was called 'stat.us', but quickly changed to 'twttr', then changed again to 'twitter' as we know it today. It was posted on 24th of March 2006.
Dorsey had the idea to build such a service for 5 years, but never acted on it until the 6th year. Here is the description he added alongside the picture.
On May 31st, 2000, I signed up with a new service called LiveJournal. I was user 4,136 which entitled me a permanent account and street cred in some alternate geeky universe which I have not yet visited. I was living in the Sunshine Biscuit Factory in Oakland California and starting a company to dispatch couriers, taxis, and emergency services from the web.
One night in July of that year I had an idea to make a more "live" LiveJournal. Real-time, up-to-date, from the road. Akin to updating your AIM status from wherever you are, and sharing it. For the next 5 years, I thought about this concept and tried to silently introduce it into my various projects. It slipped into my dispatch work. It slipped into my networks of medical devices. It slipped into an idea for a frictionless service market. It was everywhere I looked: a wonderful abstraction which was easy to implement and understand.
The 6th year; the idea has finally solidified (thanks to the massively creative environment my employer Odeo provides) and taken a novel form. We're calling it twttr (though this original rendering calls it stat.us; I love the word.ed domains, e.g. gu.st/). It's evolved a lot in the past few months. From an excited discussion and persuasion on the South Park playground to a recently approved application for a SMS shortcode. I'm happy this idea has taken root; I hope it thrives.
Some things are worth the wait.
Four months later, in July 2006, Dorsey had a working site where you could post your status and see friends statuses. Though it wasn't yet styled properly.