History of Pornography – How We Got Here?

Aug 20, 2022 | Articles, Sexuality


Nowadays, pornography has become integral part of our life. Porn has grown into a multibillion industry, with porn movies and sexually explicit material available on TV, newspapers, internet, and everywhere around us. However, it hasn’t always been this way. While pornography dates back to the oldest times, the accessibility hasn’t been as easy as it is now. Nowadays, you can Google almost any pornographic material.

Difference between pornography and erotica

Before we go into the industry and history of pornography, we must explain the difference between porn and erotica. Many people still mistake this two terms. The main difference is that erotica puts the emphasis on emotions and feelings, while in pornography, the emphasis is on sexual acts, especially the physical aspect of sex.

Pornography has a goal of achieving quick and intense reactions, arousals and much more.

Classification of pornography

There are two main categories in the pornography industry, and those are hardcore and softcore. No matter how small the content is, if there is hardcore content, the work can be classified as hardcore. Softcore videos are mostly those with “sensual sex”. Both softcore and hardcore categories contain nudity. Softcore usually doesn’t include fetishism, sexual penetration and explicit sexual activity.

Both categories can also be further divided into small categories such as group say, gay, lesbian, bisexual, amateur, ethnic pornography and much more.


Technology and pornography

The development of technology played a huge role in the spreading of pornography. The advance technology we have nowadays allows people to record a movie or take a photo instantly, at anytime, anywhere. Mobile cameras can easily take pictures or record videos, and users can forward them via MMS. The practice is known as sexting.

Going further into the world of technology, and how it helped pornography, we now see sex clips with fictional characters. The practice began in 2004, when movies with characters such as Lara Croft started flooding the internet. Anime porn also became a huge deal, especially in Japan and other Asian countries where anime is a popular genre. And let’s not forget that even Playboy played with computer generated actors and models. In the 2004 October issue, the famous magazine placed the title character from the BloodRayne video game on its cover.

The next frontier for the porn industry is 3D pornography. With the growing popularity of 3D technology, and thanks to movies such as Avatar, companies in the porn industries are trying hard to film a 3D porn video. The first successful example is “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy”, a movie recorded in Hong Kong.

The Golden Age of Porn

A landmark decision by the Supreme Court in the United States changed porn forever in the 70s. In the case “Miller versus California”, the court changed and redefined the understanding of the term “obscenity”. After the decision, there was a dramatic drop-off in prosecution due to obscenity.

The arrival of some popular porn stars helped, as Nina Hartley, Peter North and Ron Jeremy joined the industry. The first international movie “Behind the Green Door” was released in 1972.

With the launching of VHC format, pornography took thousands of steps forward. It was then that porn became a household name with the development of video technology. According to statistics by PornHub, in 1976, when VHC format was first launched, only 1% of people in America had VCR. However, more than 70% of VHS tapes that were sold were pornographic.

VHS tapes completely changed the world of pornography, as people were able to pause, play, fast-forward and rewind the material.

And once the world wide web started in 1991, pornography took even bigger step forward becoming mainstream industry. The first porn site was launched in 1994, and by the year of 2012, Xvideos had more than 4.4 billion views per month, becoming the largest porn website. Today, the website ranks as the 43 most popular website.



– The first statue of a woman and a man having sex, or sexual intercourse dates back to 5200 BCE. It is a statue of German hunters and gatherers.

– Between 200 BC and 400 BC, Kamasutra was written. It is still one of the most popular books with sexually explicit content. One of the biggest misconceptions about Kamasutra is that the book is a sexual manual. Quite the opposite is true, as Kamasutra is a guide to gracious and virtuous living

– Sometimes during 950, the construction of the 85 temples of Khajuraho started. The temples in India are known for their sexually explicit sculptures. The sculptures cover the outer walls of the temples.

– In 1557, Pope Paul IV prepared the first index of banned books due to sexual and theological content. The most popular book in the index is Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

– In 1748, one of the most popular books with sexual content appeared, titled “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure”. The book was banned and confiscated by authorities one year later. The book remained banned until the 1960s. The author, John Cleland, was charged because he was allegedly “corrupting the King’s subjects”. The novel is considered one of the first erotic and pornographic prose materials

– In 1865, a nude portrait of a prostitute appears in the Paris Salon. The fun part is that the statue is mostly criticized because of the earthy frankness the prostitute portrays and presents the nudity, as nudity itself was not a problem. The statue was called Olympia, and it represented the first time that nudity was presented by a naked woman, not an idealized goddess

– During the 18th century, porn took off in France. Porn pictures were spreading, and pornography became popular as the element of post cards, posters and playing cards. And while those pictures look innocent nowadays, back then they were seen as scandalous.

– In the 19th century, there were many campaigns against pornography, as people were obliged to pay fines due to spreading pornography. Some of the best writers of the century, including Zola, Baudelaire, and Flaubert were all brought to court to answer for their “pornographic elements” in their work.

– In 1855, the first porn daguerreotype appeared

– First movie with animal passion was the “Kiss” in 1896. The movie featured two actors that kissed for three minutes, and the critics classified the movie as “a demonstration of brutish lust”, something that civilized humans cannot bear. The movie was extremely popular, and was even showed on a big screen in Moscow.

– In 1899, the first softcore erotic movie is filmed. In the movie, Louise Willy performed a striptease and bathes in front of a camera. The movie is called “Coucher de la Mariee”.

– The movie “L’Ecu d’Or ou la Bonne Auberge” is the first one to survive to distribution, despite the censorship on hardcore pornography. Back then, hardcore porn movies were mostly shown in brothels, but the “L’ecu” survived the censors and was distributed.

– Porn and pornography was first legalized in Denmark, in the year of 1968. Back then, masterpieces like Decameron (Giovanni Boccaccio) were prohibited because of their indecency. The movie that made the breakthrough was filmed by Alex de Renzy and M.C. van Hellen, and focused on Scandinavian sex movies. Alex de Renzy still records movies in the US.

– In 1966, Lasse Braun enters the porn industry, filming underground short silent sex movies, including some of the popular names such as “Butterfly”, “Blow-up ‘70” and “Sex on the Motorway”.

– The first movie with explicit sex scenes is “The Deep Throat”, filmed in 1972 by producer Gerard Damiano. The movie features 15 scenes of oral sex. In the movie, a woman complains to her doctor that she cannot feel any satisfaction with sex, and the scene starts a chain of events. The producers needed six days to finish the movie, but the film made all the actors and producers popular and rich.


Pornography Today

As we mentioned, pornography is a multibillion business and industry nowadays. In the US, the annual turnover is between 4 and 6 billion dollars. More than 500 movies are made per year in the US, with big companies earning more than $20,000 per movie.

Legalization of pornography also took off, with the business being legalized in almost all countries in the world with the exception of Muslim countries. Aside from Muslim countries, India, Russia, China and catholic states in Latin America haven’t legalized pornography.

Pornography is also getting its own version of Oscars, with the Adult Video News magazine presenting awards and achievements in the past ten years. The event is scheduled right in the middle of the Oscar and the Golden Globe ceremonies.

Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

Thomas B.