Telegram started in 2013 as a platform for testing MTProto encryption under heavy load. And seven years later, Pavel Durov, who founded the messenger, acts as a defendant in a US court and tries to prove that the Gram cryptocurrency is not a security. Between these events is a fascinating story of growth from thousands to hundreds of millions of users with a parallel game of cat and mouse with Roskomnadzor, blocking in Iran and attracting investments of $ 1.7 billion. We decided to rewind time and see how Telegram developed.
Registered domain telegram.org
10 years before the appearance of the messenger, someone registered the telegram.org domain. The site looked something like this and was not connected in any way with the messenger, which will appear in 10 years.
Pavel Durov got the idea of a messenger
In an nofollow=”https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/03/technology/once-celebrated-in-russia-programmer-pavel-durov-chooses-exile.html”>interview with the New York Times, Pavel Durov said that the initial idea of the application came to him back in 2011, when special forces came to his door.
August 14, 2013
The first Telegram client for iOS
The application in the then iTunes Store was uploaded by Pavel Durov – Digital Fortress. Literally the day after the appearance of the application, Telegram was called in the news headlines “a quick analog of WhatsApp”. In fact, Telegram has become a platform for testing under heavy loads the MTProto encryption technology created by Nikolai Durov.
August 22, 2013
The first Telegram client for Android
A participant in the Durov’s Android Challenge has written and made publicly available the first application for the Android operating system that is compatible with Telegram (he used the same MTProto protocol).
October 31, 2013
The messenger has a website
It is curious that the illustrations for seven years have not changed at all, and by 2020 only new ones have been added in the same style.
November 1, 2013
The first million installations
According to TJournal, by November 2013, Telegram was installed a million times.
The user of Habr found a gap in Telegram
December 17, Pavel Durov promised $ 200 thousand for the full decryption of his correspondence in the Telegram. Less than a week later, on December 22, an inofollow=”https://habr.com/en/post/206900/”>nvestigation of the security of the messenger appeared on Habr, which was conducted by @x7mz. For the identified bug, Durov promised to pay $ 100 thousand
January 1, 2014
Unofficial Web Version – Webogram
It was developed by a former employee of Vkontakte Igor Zhukov and nofollow=”https://github.com/zhukov/webogram”>posted the project on Github.
June 21, 2014
Client for large-screen iOS devices – Telegram HD
Telegram Messenger LLP uploaded the application to the AppStore. The new application received a special version for the Apple iPad, improved support for high-resolution video and photos, and added the ability to send animated images in GIF format. On the official website of the messenger, this application was specified as the client for iOS.
November 15, 2014
Added support for aliases
Knowing the nickname, it became possible to contact the Telegram user without even knowing the phone number.
Initially, 14 stickers were added to the application, but any user could modify them or add their own. The Telegram team later began to expand the official set and added new characters to it. Unlike many similar applications, in Telegram stickers are completely free. A separate post about nofollow=”https://telegram.org/blog/stickers-meet-art-and-history”>famous personalities was published on the basis of which stickers were developed.
June 25, 2015
Telegram has opened a platform for creating bots
The creators of the Telegram IM client took this fact into account and were the first among competitors to open the API for bots. Now third-party developers can safely create their own bots and connect them to Telegram. A special section with help information on creating bots has been opened for bot drivers.
September 21, 2015
12 billion messages per day
At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Pavel Durov said that the messenger delivers 12 billion messages every day, which is two billion more than in August of the same year.
September 22, 2015
Public channels appeared in the messenger
All users were given the opportunity to organize their own public mailing list. Each channel has its own unique address where an unlimited number of subscribers can connect to it. They have access to all messages in the channel for the entire time of its existence. In addition, each message displays a view counter.
The size of group chats increased from 200 to 1000 people
February 23, 2016
The monthly audience of the service has reached 100 million users.
According to the Telegram itself, at that moment in the messenger 350 thousand new users were registered daily and 15 billion messages passed through the service daily.
Now you can edit messages
It was possible to make changes within two days from the date of dispatch. In this case, a special label will appear in the message. In addition to editing, this nofollow=”https://telegram.org/blog/edit”>update also included several other innovations.
November 22, 2016
Telegraph is a free publishing tool that allows you to create long publications and insert photos and all kinds of embedded code into them. The first platform with support for instant view in Telegram – the ability to view sites directly in the messenger
January 3, 2017
Now you can delete your messages
One of the developers added the ability to delete his sent messages. After the sender has deleted the message, the interlocutor will not be able to see the deleted message.
May 15, 2017
In the desktop version there are voice calls
May 16, 2017
The Telegram Administration said it would not provide information to state bodies
June 28, 2017
Pavel Durov agreed to add Telegram to the register of ARI
Durov wrote on his VK page that his company would add data “for registering Telegram Messenger LLP in the register of information dissemination organizers”. He argued that the head of the department, Alexander Zharov, only asks for information about the Telegram company and is not going to demand access to the personal correspondence of messenger users.
Durov announced the requirement of the FSB to provide encryption keys
Despite the requirements of the Spring Law, Telegram refused to decrypt the correspondence of users. Pavel Durov in September 2017 wrote that the FSB had come to the London office to issue encryption keys. He also emphasized that a similar situation was in Iran: “… for all the years of work, we have not blocked a single political channel and have not given a single byte of personal data to the authorities.”
There was a version of Telegram for iOS and Android in Russian
The updated version of the Telegram messenger for iOS and Android has become available in Russian. It was prepared using the translations.telegram.org crowdsourcing platform, with the help of which the messenger interface was translated into Ukrainian, French, Malay and other languages - 13 languages were available at that time. The appearance of the media player has also changed and the opportunity to share geo-position has appeared.
In January 2014, Durov stated that “the Russian version is not a priority for Telegram. For Russian-speakers there are already excellent VKontakte messages – you can use them. ”
October 16, 2017
The court first fines Telegram for 800 thousand ₽
The Meshchansky District Court of Moscow fined Telegram 800 thousand rubles for refusing to provide the FSB with information for decoding messages regarding 6 numbers used by the messenger. Commenting on the situation, Pavel Durov stated that he considers the FSB requirements for Telegram to be contrary to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, and asked lawyers who want to tackle the issue to contact him.
November 1, 2017
Telegram channel blocked for the first time due to piracy
The telegram channel was first blocked due to audio piracy.
January 11, 2018
Durov first announced the creation of the TON blockchain platform with its own cryptocurrency
At the beginning of 2018, Durov announced that he wants to create a high-performance blockchain platform that works on the principles of a distributed network. Potentially, such a system can compete with Visa and Mastercard. Telegram developers have promised to provide a reliable tool for using the Gram cryptocurrency, which would be stored in the nofollow=”https://t.me/tginfo/1177″>TON wallet.
ICO Telegram received applications for $ 3.8 billion
As early as January 18, information appeared that Telegram plans to raise more than a billion US dollars during the ICO. A week later, it became known that the collection of applications for the preliminary stage of the ICO was completed. Demand was booming, and at the preliminary stage of the ICO, the company raised $ 850 million from 81 investors, and applications were filed in general for $ 3.8 billion. Investors were offered not Gram themselves, but utility tokens, which later gave the right to exchange them for Gram. At the same time, the Telegram team promised investors to launch TON and the Gram cryptocurrency no later than October 31, 2019.
March 20, 2018
Supreme court ruled legitimate FSB requirements for Telegram
The Supreme Court of Russia recognized the FSB’s requirement to provide keys for decrypting correspondence on Telegram. On the same day, Roskomnadzor informed Telegram about the need to comply with the requirements of the law on the provision of information to the FSB of Russia: if Telegram does not provide the FSB encryption keys within 15 days, it may be blocked in Russia. The creator of the messenger announced his refusal to give the FSB encryption keys for correspondence in Telegram.
March 29, 2018
Global Telegram Crash
The problem affected both the application and the web client. According to company representatives, Telegram did not work in Europe, the CIS and the Middle East. Users could not exchange messages, make notes in group chats and channels, and also make calls. According to Pavel Durov, it was a blackout in one of the data centers.
April 13, 2018
The court decided to block Telegram in Russia
The court session was held at a fast pace. It took 18 minutes to consider the claim. The court took more time to make a decision than to consider a lawsuit. The judge announced a decision to establish in Russia the restriction of access to the Telegram messenger. The court decision in the case nofollow=”https://www.mos-gorsud.ru/rs/taganskij/services/cases/civil/details/2cc72aea-39e7-4f8e-adc9-37d170966efa”>02-1779 / 2018 entered into force immediately.
Roskomnadzor bans hundreds of thousands of IP addresses to block Telegram
For one day on April 16, 2018, nofollow=”https://meduza.io/en/short/2018/04/17/here-s-how-many-ip-addresses-russia-has-blocked-to-cut-access-to-telegram”>Roskomnadzor blocked in Russia about 0.04% of all IP-addresses of IPv4 address space (2³² addresses). They banned 655 352 Amazon IP addresses and the Google 188.8.131.52/12 subnet, which contains more than a million Google IP addresses – all in order to interfere with the work of the messenger in Russia. Despite the efforts of the ILV, Telegram remained available to most users, constantly moving to other addresses, as well as adding a convenient proxy server setting.
July 26, 2018
Telegram Launches TON External Secure ID
nofollow=”https://telegram.org/blog/passport”>TON External Secure ID (Telegram Passport) – a virtual user passport to minimize illegal activities. The service can potentially store personal data – passports, passports, receipts, utility bills, and other documents. They can be downloaded once to the Telegram cloud storage, protected by end-to-end encryption, and then share them with services that require authorization. The messenger itself will not have access to this data.
Telegram agreed to transfer IP addresses to special services, but only by court order
The messenger’s lawyer Pavel Chikov said that Telegram agrees to transfer to the special services the IP addresses and phone numbers of users suspected of terrorism on the basis of a court decision. “Threats to block Telegram, if we do not give out the private data of users, will lead to nothing. Telegram protects freedom and privacy, ”- Pavel Durov.
January 4, 2019
Durov filed for the liquidation of Telegram Messenger LLP
Pavel Durov filed for the liquidation of the British company Telegram Messenger LLP. On January 4, 2019, the document “ Application to strike the limited liability partnership off the register ” was published in the British state register of legal entities, in which the founder of the Telegram messenger informed all interested parties about the liquidation of the limited liability partnership. It was from Telegram Messenger LLP that the Russian special services required to provide encryption keys from the messenger, and it was this company that was included in the registry of Roskomnadzor.
June 6, 2019
Animated stickers appeared in Telegram
September 10, 2019
Telegram developers open TON blockchain project for testing
The beta version of the Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain has become available for testing to everyone. Initially, the start of open testing was generally scheduled for September 1 of this year, but for some reason, the launch of testing was postponed for 10 days. At that time, it was expected that in October 2019 TON will work in full force. The archive with the blockchain code is available on the specially created test.ton.org resource, where links to the GitHub repository are located.
October 12, 2019
US regulators banned the distribution of the TON token
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a complaint against Telegram Group Inc and TON Issuer Inc for violating the terms of the preliminary placement of token claim rights. The token pre-sale agreement stipulated its automatic termination – with a refund, in case of non-launch of TON until October 31, 2019. The return was already $ 1.7 billion. Investors were sent a letter:
For our investors, as you probably saw, on October 11, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against the Telegram Group Inc. in the US federal court. and TON Issuer Inc., in an attempt to prevent the launch of the TON blockchain. In accordance with the SEC's stated desire to interact with developers of digital asset technologies, Telegram over the past 18 months has tried to interact with the SEC and receive feedback on the TON blockchain. We were surprised and disappointed that the SEC decided to file a lawsuit in these circumstances, and we do not agree with the legal position of the SEC. Together with our consultants, we continue to evaluate the best ways to resolve the situation in the interests of the parties involved, including, but not limited to, evaluating whether it is worth trying to postpone the launch date. We are working hard to quickly resolve these issues, and hope to provide further updates over the next week. Respectfully,
October 17, 2019
Durov proposed to postpone the launch of TON on April 30, 2020
Telegram invited TON investors to agree to postpone the launch of the cryptocurrency project until April 30, 2020 or to receive a return of approximately 77% of the investment. Investors agreed.
October 24, 2019
The Ministry of Communications said that Telegram in Russia is actually not prohibited
The Ministry of Communications said that attempts to block the Telegram messenger in Russia do not mean a ban on its use. “The decision to block the technical service does not mean a ban on the use of this service,” said Alexey Volin, deputy head of the Ministry of Communications.
October 27, 2019
Durov summoned to US court over illegal Gram issue
The Southern District Court of New York ruled that Pavel Durov, as well as two other Telegram employees, should stand trial and testify about the issue of Gram digital tokens, which the SEC suspended earlier in October of the same 2019. Durov and his colleagues were invited to testify in January 2020 in a “place agreed by the parties.” Later, a transcript of the nofollow=”https://thebell.io/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Durov-1-22.pdf”>testimony appeared.
November 4, 2019
Gram cryptocurrency testing started
Ready official clients appeared only under Windows, MacOS and Linux. Enthusiasts were invited to download the source code from GitHub and compile the applications on their own, both for desktop systems, and for mobile iOS and Andriod. After registering the test wallet, you had to connect to the @test_ton_bot bot in Telegram, which offered to replenish the test account in the amount of 5 to 20 Gram. nofollow=”https://wallet.ton.org/”>Read more →
January 6, 2020
Telegram asked the court not to force the company to report on the spending of $ 1.7 billion investment
SEC tried through a court to oblige Telegram to report where it spent $ 1.7 billion, which the company received through the sale of 2.9 billion digital Gram tokens worldwide, including more than 1 billion tokens – to US residents. Pavel Durov was supposed to testify in Dubai on January 7 and 8. The company’s lawyers appealed to the federal court of the Southern District of the State of New York with a request not to force the company to disclose financial information related to the Gram project.
January 9, 2020
The court allowed Telegram not to disclose additional financial information
The document, which was published after the court, said that the court rejected the plaintiff’s application for the provision of bank data protection. True, the judge ordered the defense to provide confirmation that the bank records in question fall under the “foreign data protection legislation”.
January 14, 2020
The court still ordered Telegram to transfer financial data to the SEC
“In the light of the arguments presented by the parties in the letters and during the telephone conference on January 6, the court nofollow=”https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/16325310/67/securities-and-exchange-commission-v-telegram-group-inc/”>orders the defendants to submit the requested bank notes,” the decision stated. The document also said that Telegram might hide information that falls under foreign privacy laws. Documents should have been submitted to the SEC no later than February 26, 2020.
January 17, 2020
U.S. authorities release new evidence in Gram release case
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has published documents confirming violations by Telegram. The papers, for example, said that the company considered Gram tokens for its blockchain platform TON as securities. Telegram did not agree with this: “The Gram does not exist yet, but if it does exist someday, it will be a currency and / or a product, not a security subject to federal securities laws.”
U.S. Digital Commerce Chamber Joins Telegram
nofollow=”https://digitalchamber.org/”>The Digital Commerce Chamber is a human rights institution that protects the rights of blockchain business in the United States. She wanted to play an independent role in court as a party that informs the court on various issues in the proceedings. “The Chamber is interested in ensuring that the legal framework applicable to the digital assets underlying the investment contract is clear and consistent.”
January 31, 2020
Publishers under $ 55 billion due to pirated copies of books on Telegram
The head of the Association for the Protection of Rights on the Internet (AZAPI) Maxim Ryabyko said that distributing pirated copies of books on Telegram deprived publishers of profits of 55 billion rubles. According to him, about 200 channels with a total audience of about 2 million people are engaged in illegal activities in the messenger
February 14, 2020
Telegram introduces public profile function for dating
Telegram has released an update that includes a new version of the People Nearby feature. It allows you to find those within a radius of 100 m – 6 km. The function can now be used for dating.
February 20, 2020
Telegram agrees to wait until April 30 court ruling on Gram
Lawyer Alexander Draylivski, who represents the interests of the company, reminded the judge that Telegram must fulfill its obligations to those who previously purchased Gram tokens by April 30. “This should not cause problems,” the judge replied.
Looking forward to April 30, 2020
The court will verdict on Gram
The judge has to decide what the Gram actually is: a security or virtual currency.
U.S. court bans cryptocurrency sale by Pavel Durov
A New York court ruled to ban the sale of Gram cryptocurrency. Pavel Durov still has a chance to appeal the decision in a dispute with the US Securities Commission (SEC), but there is little chance of success.
Judge Kevin Castel agreed with all claims made by the SEC and recognized Gram as a security. Gram tokens were not intended for storage by investors, but for further resale. This action carries certain risks in the future, so the Telegram team had to register the placement of securities under US laws.
The decision of the New York court is not the end of the dispute process, but it significantly reduces the chances of Pavel Durov winning. This means that he will have to return all the money to investors. Previously, the founder of the project promised to return 77% of the invested amount, this is more than $ 1.3 billion.
The Telegram litigation with the SEC has been ongoing since the end of 2019. At the beginning of the year, lawyers of the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted an interrogation of Pavel Durov in order to find out the sources of financing. It also became known that one of the Gram investors is Roman Abramovich, Mikhail Abyzov, Mikhail Gutseriev and the widow of Steve Jobs.