This was one of the very first memes–arguably the first truly viral piece of content on the Internet. It started in 2,000 but to fully appreciate it you have to back to a 1989 arcade game called Zero Wing, one of the earliest horizontal shooter games in which the player tries to overthrow an alien cyborg named CATS (for some reason) by, well, shooting stuff. The game also featured some of the very earliest attempts at injecting games with non-interactive scenes to punctuate the game and add some narrative, although “narrative” is a pretty generous term to use for these little pieces of stilted dialogue against 8-bit animation.
But it was fine. In 1992, Mega Drive/Genesis released a home version of the game in Europe which was the same game with the same content, but the dialogue–originally written in Japanese–had been delightfully mistranslated.
Fast forward to 2,000 when the Internet, still in its infancy, was just starting to be a place where people shared funny images and gifs on message boards. The poorly translated English from the Zero Wing vignettes were popular, and then a computer programmer in Kansas City named Jeffrey Ray Roberts (1977-2011) made a techno dance track that remixed some of the Zero Wing game music originally created by Tatsuya Uemura. The funniest and most popular phrase in the track was “All your base are belong to us,” which various members of the Something Awful message board began photoshopping into new contexts to spectacular effect.
In 2001, a member of forum called Tribal Wars combined Roberts’ remix of the song with a slew of these photoshopped images from Something Awful and gave the world a Flash animation masterpiece which is somehow even funnier today.