All About Email Addresses

Email today is among the most common forms of communication.  It feels as though everybody uses email these days, and use it quite frequently.  While some people receive only a message or two every week, others will send and receive thousands within that same time. 

Email got started back in 1968, at a business called Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN).  This company was hired by the Department of Defense to create what was, at the time, called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), which was later to be known as the Internet.  ARPANET was to be used for communications among military and educational institutions.

Engineer Ray Tomlinson was assigned to a project in 1971, which had two main parts: SNDMSG and READMAIL.  SNDMSG was the first form of electronic mail.  It had already existed for several years and was an exceptionally primitive way for users of the same machine to send messages to one another.  Text files could be created and delivered to inboxes on the same machine. It could not send to different machines.  The mailbox consisted only of a simple text file to which additional text could be added.  Data could not, however, be deleted or edited. 

Tomlinson's goal for the project, however, was to broaden the capabilities of SNDMSG.  He had already been working on a project called CYPNET, which had the purpose of transferring files among different computers within the ARPANET.  Therefore, he modified his CYPNET to allow appended files.

Tomlinson's next decision was a mark in history.  He created the current email address format, with the mailbox name, the @ symbol, and the machine's node name.

He then sent the first email message - to himself.  Its contents have been forgotten over time.  It was simply sent between two ARPANET network PDP-10 nodes.  From that point on email became exceptionally popular, where 75% of all ARPANET traffic was email within two years of time. One of the first large email programs for the public that achieved real popularity was Eudora.  It was written as an email client by Steve Dorner in 1988.

Today, research shows that over half of all Americans use email for approximately half an hour every day.  87 million Americans actively use email.

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