YouTube video '21 Years' records every day in the life of a boy

With nearly 5 million views, the newest overnight YouTube hit shows daily photos of Cory McLeod as he transforms from a tiny baby into a 21-year-old man.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
YouTube video "21 Years" racked up nearly 5 million hits in just six weeks. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

The YouTube video "21 Years" starts with a black-and-white sonogram image of a baby and ends with a photo of a young man holding a birthday cake about to blow out the candles. This six-and-a-half minute time-lapse video shows every day of the first 21 years of Cory McLeod's life and has quickly become a YouTube sensation.

McLeod's father, Ian McLeod, took the first photo of his son five minutes after he was born and then just kept taking photos day-by-day. The video shows one photo for every day of Cory McLeod's life. There are images of him in bed, at school, with friends, at the beach, and everywhere else imaginable.

Ian McLeod took all the photos with a film camera, according to CBS News, and it took him a year and a half just to scan and upload the pictures into his computer. These more than 7,500 photos now fill 71 albums on Ian McLeod's shelf.

With nearly 5 million hits, the aptly named "21 Years" has seemed to capture the attention of viewers around the world. It's not everyday that people can watch the process of a baby growing into a child and then transforming into a young man.

"Not sure what it is, but I could -- and have -- watched this over and over again," YouTube commenter 631trell wrote. "There is something deeply moving about it, simple as it really is as an idea. The combination of watching a little boy grow into a fine young man, and the obvious parental pride it took to make this video. It is both compelling and touching and in some inexplicable way, much more than the sum of its parts."