Despite being one of the most widely used means of communication nowadays, very few people know who invented our beloved emails. Whether it is for personal, business, marketing purposes, we usually send at least one email a day but we do not tend to ask ourselves who gave us the opportunity to do all this. Yet, our dear e-mail, has been present on the Web for several years now and has seen on its way many changes and revolutions, which have led it to be that essential tool that we all know. If it is true that the merit of its success is due to the immediacy and speed of communication, there is a very precise name behind the birth of emails: that of Ray Tomlinson. If you are part of the group of curious people of the Web I invite you to continue reading since we will go to see the history of email, from the dawn until the new evolutions.
The invention of Ray Tomlinson
To be able to trace the invention and the beginning of the first email you have to make a nice jump in time, precisely going back to the times of the ARPANET (the ancestor of today’s internet). Ray Tomlinson was an American programmer, an employee of the IT company BBN Technologies, who worked on the project and created a prototype for the transfer of files named CPYNET. However, searching through old projects, he learned of an old protocol based on “mailboxes”, designed to send files of the same PC to different receptors with the only purpose of printing. Hence the brilliant idea. Ray realized that by modifying the original protocol, and integrating it into his prototype, it would be possible to communicate messages immediately. He found a way to distinguish the name of the device from the name of the user, indicating it with the famous snail, and from the idea of a remote interconnection was born the genius: the email. Tomlinson himself sent the first mail in 1971 and from there on, everything else is modern history.
Excellent invention but not immediately enhanced
Considering it nowadays, it is undeniable to consider email as an exceptional invention, but in the past it did not appear exactly like that. The reason is that Ray had created a communication channel too advanced for an era in which there was not yet a real network and computers were very few and high cost. This did not stop the intrepid American programmer. When the World Wide Web was born in 1993, Ray was finally able to witness the triumph of his revolutionary invention. From that date on, what had remained a prototype for more than twenty years has become a solid and irreplaceable standard for the Internet. Even after the advent of apps, messaging services and social media, no one has managed to unseat the e-mail from the throne that it deserves so much.