Ask any 10 year old about the invention of the telegraph and they'll tell u the story of Samuel Morse who initiated the telegram era on May 24, 1844, with the lofty message, "What hath god wrought!”
The same may be true of the story of the telephone. Most 6th graders can well recount Alexander Graham Bells telephonic trek into history with the now legendary summons to his assistant on March 10, 1876: "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.”
Likewise, I'm sure they would know all about the blustery day of December 12, 1901, when Guglielmo Marconi and his assistants heard the faint transmission from across the Atlantic: dot, dot,
The birth of email, however, was something quite less dramatic and it's inventor, almost an unknown.
Sent by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson in 1971, the first email was simply a test message to himself. "I sent a number of test messages to myself from one machine to the other," he recalls.
"The test messages were entirely forgettable.” The email was sent via ARPANET from one computer to another computer sitting right beside it in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Tomlinson had been playing around with two programs called SNDMSG and READMAIL, which allowed users to leave messages for one another on the same machine. He applied the idea behind
these programs to a third program called CYPNET, the combined technology allowed people to send and receive files that could be appended between different machines.
The message flew via the network between two machines in the same room in Cambridge. The message was QWERTYUIOP - the top alphabetical line on a typewriter keyboard. "The first use of
network mail,” Tomlinson says, "announced its own existence.”
Thus also creating the first piece of what is now known as SPAM or nuisance mail.
Tomlinson's new program almost instantly became a must-have application. "After we delivered the enhanced version of SNDMSG to other sites, (...