H@ppy 40th Birthday, E-Mail!

Whether you check it on your computer at work, your computer at home or your phone, it’s become a part of your every day life. It’s celebrating it’s 40th birthday this month and many of us don’t remember what life was like before it. What is IT? E-mail, of course! Like many technological innovations, email has its roots in military technology. In the late 1960s, MIT graduate Ray Tomlinson was working at a research and development firm. His work included technologies that included the earliest form of a file transfer. He was assigned to modify a program which allowed messages to be sent between different users of the same computer. This was way back when computers were usually used for commercial use only because they were so expensive. His task was to allow messages to be sent between two different computers, and in October 1971 he cracked it. Although he doesn’t remember what that first email said, he had made one small step for a message and one giant leap for mankind. You probably also didn’t know that Tomlinson is also the man to thank for the popularity of the ‘@’ symbol. He established the convention of an email ‘address’ in order to identify the recipient and the computer or network that they were using. To separate these two pieces of information, he chose ‘@’. He told The Times, “It conveyed a sense of place, which seemed to suit.” Over time, despite the convenience of email, many of us have grown to see email as a bit of a chore. Between spam, different work and personal accounts, it takes up a lot of our time. Now, with the US Postal Service going out of business due to the lack of need to mail things, email might also one day be doomed. We’ve got all these social networking sites that allow for similar forms of communication. But email will also be an essential business tool, so I guess only time will tell. Regardless, HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY TO E-MAIL!


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