If you have never heard of Peter Oakley, that’s a shame. His fans knew him better as geriatric1927 and he was the #1 most subscribed YouTuber from August 17, 2006-September 17, 2006 when he was passed by lonelygirl15. He has seen his fair share of changes on YouTube but I find it almost symbolic that nearly the same day news broke that Disney acquired Maker Studios, Peter lost his battle with cancer.
Peter bucked all of the trends on YouTube. The majority of his time vlogging was spent in his 80s. He was often described as YouTube’s grandad. He never joined a YouTube network or embraced the fame that came with it. And despite all of the changes to YouTube, Peter remained himself. A YouTuber who shared his life experiences and enriched the lives of those around him. Perhaps one of the biggest crimes was that he never got the attention he deserved, despite the important role he served in YouTube’s infancy. Although Peter had less than 50 thousand subscribers at this posting, he touched many more lives than that. He embodied something truly important to YouTube that has been overlooked a bit in the more recent quest for money. He once said about YouTube:
It is an uncensored medium for ordinary people to put forward any opinions that they want.
Entertainment overshadows most content like Peter’s these days, but for those people who consider themselves fans of the early days of YouTube, Peter will surely be missed. But thanks to his YouTube channel, Peter will live on forever, sharing his experiences and life lessons every time somebody watches his videos again. Everyone has a life worth sharing, a story worth telling and Peter Oakley was the embodiment of that message.
[YouTube] does, I think, reflect the whole of society, so that’s a wonderful thing.
In a 2012 article from The Independent Peter Oakley was quoted as saying, “There are millions of people without grandparents who find small comfort in old, simple, stories. I have had my 15 minutes of fame - and enjoyed every minute of it”. Thank you all you have shared Peter and may you rest in peace. You can read the official announcement here, and watch a moving tribute to him from Barry Aldridge: