Email Inventor Dies — RIP

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Do you know who invented email? And why he choose the new ubiquitous “@” sign? Well, I didn’t and ..I am a little embarrassed that I never wondered either. Now, I know roughly how the internet came about, but I was unaware of the story of email. So here goes:

His name was Ray Tomlinson. He was American, born in Amsterdam, New York. Ray came up with the idea of sending electronic messages between networks while working in Boston in 1971. Through the years he has been asked what the content of the first email was and his reply during an interview in 2009 was so revealing about his modesty.

He said “Every time you test you have to generate some sort of message.” “You might drag your fingers across the keyboard – like QWERTYUIOP – or just type the opening phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address or something else.” “So technically the first email is completely forgettable and therefore forgotten.”

So why the @ sign?

Ray Tomlinson said “I looked at the keyboard, and I thought: What can I choose here that won’t be confused with a username?” .. and significantly, the only preposition on the keyboard. So – in the bright light of hindsight, it seems so obvious. So there you have it – @ Website Republic 😀