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The five-year anniversary of Twitter's defining moment

When U.S. Airways Flight 1549 touched down on the frigid waters in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009, Twitter, for many, was just a funny word in the dictionary. Fast forward five years and it's as ubiquitous as a bird in the sky.

What was deemed "the most successful ditching in aviation history" helped Twitter become the social media powerhouse it is today, and the now-public company has Janis Krums to thank.

"There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy." Krums tweeted along with a photo to his 170 followers. Exactly 32 minutes later, the man who first reported "The Miracle on the Hudson" was interviewed live on MSNBC.

Everyone stopped what they were doing at Twitter's office, co-founder Biz Stone recently reminisced in an answer on Q&A app Jelly. The team ran over to a computer screen to view Krums' viral photograph, Stone wrote.

"It changed everything," Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey told CNBC in 2013. "Suddenly the world turned its attention because we were the source of news—and it wasn't us, it was this person in the boat using the service, which is even more amazing."

Tweets now move billions of dollars in the stock market, have delivered play-by-play of the killing of the FBI's most wanted terrorist, and allow planet Earth to communicate directly with humans and machines residing in outer space.

Five years ago today the revolution began.

See the story behind the rise of Twitter as reported by CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, below, in the CNBC original "#TwitterRevolution."

By CNBC's Eli Langer. Follow him on Twitter at @EliLanger.

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