Email messaging is one of the major ways people communicate over the internet. Billions of people use the platform for both work and personal purposes.
This method of messaging was invented in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. Early implementations of email messaging required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time, in common with instant messaging. But with advancements over the years, email servers now accept, forward, deliver, and store messages.
Ray Tomlinson was an electrical engineer whose experiments with technologies at Bolt Beranek and Newman Company led him to discover Email. He found a way to tweak two existing technologies of that time – 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, thereby allowing users to send and receive files across several computers.
The first email message consisted of the text was:
“something like QWERTYUIOP”
It was sent by Tomlinson as a simply a test message to himself. The email was sent from one computer to another computer sitting right beside it in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but it traveled via ARPANET, a network of computers that was the precursor to the Internet.
Emails evolved from using ASCII text-only communications medium, to Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) which carry text in other character sets and multimedia content attachments.
Ray Tomlinson is also widely known for introducing the “@” sign as the locator in email addresses.