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A short history of email

A Short History of Email

The history of email is older than internet. It was not really invented but advanced from simple beginnings. Email messages were not sent, they were left behind much similar like leaving a note on someone’s desk. This message would be easily seen by the user when logged on.

The first email system of this type was called MAILBOX. It was used in 1965 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. SNDMSG was another early program that could send messages on the same computer. Thus before the arrival of internet, email messaging was only done with the same computer.

When the internet was developed, the problem that occurred was sending the message to the right person. While the computers could recognize and talk to each other, identifying a particular person to receive the email message was very complicated.

Addressing the email message was invented in 1972 by Ray Tomlinson. He had worked as an ARPANET contractor for Bolt Beranek and Newman. He chose the ‘@’ symbol from the keyboard for denoting sending messages from one computer to the other. Since then, anyone using the internet or emailing was simple as nominating name-of-the-user@name-of-the-computer.

Other email features such as labeling and sorting emails in folders came much later. Larry Roberts invented some email folders for his boss for sorting his mail, it was a big progress. John Vital developed a software in 1975 for organizing email. Email started to advance greatly by 1976 and commercial packages were available.

It was very costly to connect to the internet in those days. It was difficult to connect to the internet and make replies. Offline readers helped a lot to solve this problem. It allowed users to store their email on their personal computers, then read them and prepare replies without being connected to the network. This is much similar to today’s Microsoft Outlook.

As the email’s features progressed, standard protocols had to be developed, especially for offline readers. SMTP or Simple Message Transfer Protocol was one of the two standards and was the first email protocol to be used. However it is still vulnerable to attacks of viruses and worms. Development for a stronger still continues.

POP or Post Office Protocol is another standard protocol and it allowed different mail systems to work with each other. SMTP and POP were both important for clients like Microsoft Outlook to download and send email through the server using the desktop.

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