Do You Know Who Invented E-mail? AOL, Hotmail or Someone Else?

It may sound off-topic in current technological advancements but I chose to write about it because, we are celebrating 40 years of  E-mail technology this year. But do you know who sent the first email?

Email has become an essential part and tool of daily routine for all of us in recent years while use of smartphones has only made it further easy to use. Most of us think AOL or Hotmail as inventors of Email but they’re actually creators of modern version of this technology in 90s. So, who invented it? What was the first email message?

In early 1960s, SNDMSG component allowed users to compose & send a message that other user could read from his home directory using READMAIL for time-sharing operating system of a single non-network computer.

In 1971, Mr. Raymond Tomlinson – a programmer for ARPAnet (first stage of modern Internet) – modified the SNDMSG part while he was working on file transfer system between the network. He created a program called CPYNET for TENEX operating system which was capable of copying files on the network. He then informed other team members by sending them an email using his new program with instructions on using it.

Mr. Tomlinson sent a test message using ‘QWERTYUIOP’ – a very first line on a keyboard. This is how he managed to send

Do You Know Who Invented E-mail? AOL, Hotmail or Someone Else?
Mr. Raymond Tomlinson

the world’s first ever email message in October 1971. He did not keep this message because he thought the message had nothing significant to preserve.

He commented back then, “Test messages were entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them.”

He also used ‘@’ symbol to extend its use over the network for separating every user and the host name by using ‘user@host’. It was very simple yet effective and hence it’s the standard of email addressing till date.

Email technology has grown a long way since that first email 40 years ago and its very difficult to see how this technology will evolve in another twenty years or so. But, its usefulness for millions of users across the Internet in day-to-day life is invaluable.

Are you happy with email services you’re using these days? What more would you like added in this technology?


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