Home Headline News Email Turns 50

The history of email goes all the way back to early mainframe systems that included the ability to communicate with similar computer systems.

But in 1971, software engineer Ray Tomlinson introduced the “@” symbol to route electronic mail between different computers within the ARPANET system, a forerunner of the world wide web.

Today, 50 years after Tomlinson introduced the @ symbol to our vocabulary, we still use the “@” methodology to send almost 300 billion emails back and forth across the internet, every single day.

Despite email being declared “dead” many times over the years, experts say use of email messaging is only going to increase in the coming years.

The History of Email: A Brief Timeline

Here’s a brief history of email, including the key innovations and services email messaging has seen over its 50-year journey.

Important Pre-email Milestones

1962: The Administrative Terminal System

In 1962, IBM introduced the first “networked” computer system with a system known as the Administrative Terminal System.

For the first time, users could access information from a network of computers, instead of just their local computer.

1969: Electronic messages exchanged within ARPANET

By 1969, the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) had created ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a computer network meant to facilitate communication within the organization. (ARPA became “DARPA” in 1971 when the U.S. added “Defense” in front of the agency name.)

The first electronic message sent specifically from one computer to another happened on October 29, 1969. It transferred a simple message from a UCLA computer to one at Stanford University. It looked like this:

50 Years of Email

1971: Ray Tomlinson sends the first email using the “@” character

In 1971, programmer Ray Tomlinson conceived of using the “@” symbol to route electronic mail to individual users on specific computers within ARPANET.

This moment is generally known as the “invention” of network email as we know it today, and Tomlinson is credited as the inventor of email. His system enabled the exchange of messages within ARPANET, connecting researchers at places like MIT, Purdue, Stanford, and USC.

We continue to use the “@” symbol to route messages to web servers all over the world.

1973: DARPA standardizes email fields and functions

DARPA continued to be a major player in the history of email throughout the 1970s.

DARPA first proposed a series of standard features for an email system in 1973. In 1977, finalized electronic mail standards for much of what we are familiar with today.

This includes the “To” and “From” fields and the ability to forward emails to recipients who were not addressed on the original email.

1989: CompuServe includes email in home dial-up service

CompuServe launched the first email program designed for home users in 1989.

Customers who signed up for CompuServe’s home dial-up service could exchange messages with other CompuServe users.

1993: AOL mail

The launch of AOL was a major development in the history of email. AOL turned internet mail from an add-on to a core feature, offering free email addresses as part of its home dial-up internet service for personal computers.

The famous “three little words” declaring “You’ve got mail” became part of popular culture, even inspiring a major Hollywood movie of the same name starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

1996: Hotmail

If AOL made email popular, Hotmail made it ubiquitous.

Hotmail’s webmail offer was free and available to anyone with an internet connection. Hotmail famously added a small link at the bottom of every email that said: “P.S. I love you. Get your free email here.”

That link drove millions of people to sign up for free accounts, skyrocketing Hotmail’s user base. Microsoft later acquired the company for $400 million, but has focused more on Outlook and Microsoft teams ever since.

1997: Yahoo

Yahoo launched its free email service in 1997, adding another option for users to gain access to email outside of their internet provider.

2004: Gmail

Gmail launched its free Gmail service on April 1, 2004, to great fanfare in the media.

Google launched by offering a full 1GB of storage, many times more than any other service was offering at the time.

Gmail was also designed in a fundamentally different way than any other email service. It included unique messaging options, rules, and a built-in search function that worked significantly better than its competitors.

Gmail also used a labels system instead of “folders,” a difference that is still a differentiating factor today.

2007: The iPhone

Blackberry phones had introduced the idea of corporate executives glued to their phones reading and responding to emails.

But when Steve Jobs walked across that stage to introduce the iPhone on June 29, 2007, email truly went mobile.


The history of email has seen a wide range of “email killers.” That includes text messages, social media, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, Discord, WeChat, and many others.

But year after year, email usage goes up, not down.

Across the globe, we send 296.3 billion emails per day. 1.6 billion people use Gmail, almost one person out of five globally. And in our workplaces, the average employee sends 40 emails per day and receives 121.

Email Remains the Most Reliable Way to Send Messages

Despite the adoption of business chat applications like Slack, email is still a major part of most people’s lives.

It’s true that business chat applications have reduced the number of email messages workers send and receive within their organization. But email was never really designed for internal company communication.

Email is best when used for communication and file transfer between people all over the world. That includes people from other organizations, locations, and with different email systems.

The History of Email Shows: Email Is Still King

Modern email uses html, empowering you to create headers, add links, images, and attachments in a way that no other communication service can do quite the same way.

And email works across technology platforms. Technology like simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) enables my email account to work seamlessly with your Microsoft teams account. And that gives us the ability to communicate without needing the exact same platform.

For all these reasons, there is still no better way to build a global reputation as a thought leader than by using email.

No other method empowers you to own your list of subscribers the way email does. As a result, email marketing is as important as ever for marketers, sales professionals, and business owners. And no other method is so universally adopted both individually and within organizations.

If you need to send a message to someone in another location, there’s still no more consistent method than sending an email, no post office required.

Try cloudHQ’s Free Gmail Productivity Tools

Thousands of users use cloudHQ’s free Gmail productivity tools every day to make their email experience faster, easier, and more efficient.

There are over 70 free tools in our library, including:

You may also like


Your Trusted Source for Capital Markets & Related News

© 2024 LiveTradingNews.com – For The Traders, By The Traders – All Right Reserved.

The information contained on this website shall not be construed as (i) an offer to purchase or sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or sell, any securities or services, (ii) investment, legal, business or tax advice or an offer to provide such advice, or (iii) a basis for making any investment decision. An offering may only be made upon a qualified investor’s receipt not via this website of formal materials from the Knightsbridge an offering memorandum and subscription documentation (“offering materials”). In the case of any inconsistency between the information on this website and any such offering materials, the offering materials shall control. Securities shall not be offered or sold in any jurisdiction in which such offer or sale would be unlawful unless the requirements of the applicable laws of such jurisdiction have been satisfied. Any decision to invest in securities must be based solely upon the information set forth in the applicable offering materials, which should be read carefully by qualified investors prior to investing. An investment with Knightsbridge is not suitable or desirable for all investors; investors may lose all or a portion of the capital invested. Investors may be required to bear the financial risks of an investment for an indefinite period of time. Qualified investors are urged to consult with their own legal, financial and tax advisors before making any investment. Knightsbridge is a private investment firm that offers investment services to Qualified Investors, Members and Institutions ONLY. Qualified Investors are defined as individuals who have met those Qualifications in the relevant jurisdictions. Members are defined as individuals who have been accepted into the Knightsbridge membership program. Institutions are defined as entities such as banks, pension funds, and hedge funds. If you are not a Qualified Investor, Member or Institution, you are not eligible to invest with Knightsbridge. All investments involve risk, and there is no guarantee of profit. You may lose some or all of your investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Knightsbridge is not a registered investment advisor, and this disclaimer should not be construed as investment advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor before making any investment decisions. By accessing this website, you agree to the terms of this disclaimer. Thank you for your interest in Knightsbridge.