web analytics

The History of Email: 7 Things You Didn’t Know

Email has become so entrenched in our everyday lives that it’s hard to imagine living without it. Like most technological advancements though, it has certainly evolved since its inception. From chatting with friends across the world to sending a message to a coworker a cubicle away, email has gone from simple networks to a world wide phenomenon.

1. QWERTYUIOP – The First Email Message (1971)

email The History of Email: 7 Things You Didnt Know

Image via flickr by orangeacid

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson, a computer programmer, was the first to send an email using the @ symbol to denote the message-sending computer. The first email was “QWERTYUIOP”, the top row of the keyboard, and was sent between two computers right next to each other using ARPANET (a military funded, pre-Internet) as the communication medium. Upon being asked why he invented email, Tomlinson responded simply, “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.” He had no idea where it would lead.

2. The First Modern Day Email Was Sent By a University (1978)

Les Michelson, a professor of High Performance and Research Computing Division at the University Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), was one of the pioneers of modern day email. He got word of a gifted student, Shiva Ayyadurai, at a local high school who was an expert at computer programming. Together, they invented the current email delivery including To, From, CC, subject, body, and attachement. They also developed the delivery process including the Inbox and Outbox. In 1978, UMDNJ became the first fully functional email system for the less computer literate.

3. Eudora Was the First LAN Email (1988)

As the popularity of email started to rise, University of Illinois researcher Steve Dorner seized the opportunity. In 1988, he developed Eudora, which was the first program of its kind to send emails via a Local Area Network (LAN) connection. The program was first used at the University of Illinois, and in 1992, was purchased by Qualcomm. This was to be the predecessor of modern email.

4. Hotmail Was the First Free Email Service (1996)

With the easy interface and convenience of email, a consumer-based system on the newly founded Internet became a potential cash cow for programmers and businessmen. In 1996, Hotmail was developed as the first consumer-friendly, free email system. Hotmail remains one of the most heavily used email addresses in the world.

5. Advertising Emails Outnumber Personal Emails (ca. 1997-2000)

As more and more people used Internet around the world, businesses found that the best way to reach customers was through email marketing. Not only did it save companies money by not having to send out junk mail, it could reach customers globally. By the late nineties, advertising email outnumbered personal emails.

6. Blackberry Introduces Mobile Email (1999)

In 1999, Blackberry became the first mobile phone company to make email readily accessible from a mobile device. The advent of this technology quickly gained popularity. Today, it seems impractical and impossible not to be able to access email from a phone.

7. Hotmail is Still the Most Popular Email Service (2012)

Today, there are a variety of email service providers. Gmail, Yahoo, local internet providers, and Hotmail continue to be the most utilized. However, Windows Hotmail is still the most used service; it has 35 million more users than Gmail. As email services continue to become innovative, there are likely more candidates for the most used email in the future.

Email, from its inception, is certainly a communication medium that has changed the world around us. No better way exists to communicate with people around the globe in seconds with the click of a mouse. Which leaves us to consider what the next great communication breakthrough will be. But for now, email is king.

Speak Your Mind