A-Z of computing: E is for email

Email, alternately the scourge of modern life or the oil that slicks the wheels of business, is a fact of life for most people these days. Did you know it predates the internet, and was a crucial factor in the creation of the internet? Email in one form or another has been around since the very early 1970s, believe it or not, which means it almost predates me.

The @ symbol was employed by Ray Tomlinson, an American programmer who wasn’t even meant to be working on electronic messaging. Tomlinson’s breakthrough was in creating a file transfer protocol that allowed electronic messages to be sent between computers connected to the same network (ARPANET), rather than just left on the same computer for collection later.

Hundreds of billions of emails are sent every day worldwide, and over 85% of that will be spam, which is an awful lot of wasted time. Like any modern day business tool, email must be our slave, not our master. Try not checking for a couple of hours and see if the world falls apart. I’m considering turning off the audible email alert on my phone, but only considering. Really, I can stop any time I want…

Interview with Ray Tomlinson

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