Who Invented The E-mail?

Raymond Samuel Tomlinson or famously known as Ray Tomlinson is credited with having invented the e-mail in 1971. Although a system of sharing data between two or more computers existed before; it was a rather complex system. Ray not only simplified it but also invented the symbol ‘@’ to separate the name of the users from that of the system being used to send e-mails. The E-mail was developed (or invented) before the internet and it contributed to the development of internet.

The E-mail, like many other inventions, was not the result of a one-night stand by a single inventor. It evolved over the years from the research of a number of scientists and technicians. It all began when computers became powerful enough to run more than one program at a time. It was then that it was speculated if this increased capacity could also be employed to ease human communications. Ray Tomlinson was one of the technicians working on computers in those days. He was working on ARPANET (predecessor to the internet) when he came up with a program which could be used to transfer data from one computer to another. The ‘user host’ notion used by him set the standards which are still in place. Tomlinson also divided an e-mail into two parts: the header (which includes address, subject etc) and the main body (which contains the main text).


The next major breakthrough came when John Vital developed software in 1975, which could organize e-mails. In the early 1980s, the SMTP protocol was created and this made it possible to send a single message to more than one addressee. Then Lawrence Roberts, the director of ARPA, designed a new program which allowed users to sort e-mails headers by subject and date.

The developments continued and in 1995 Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith founded ‘Hotmail’. This allowed a user from any corner of the world to send e-mails using the World Wide Web. Microsoft was quick to realize the potential of this service and it was not long before Microsoft decided to acquire Hotmail. The developments were quick after that and according to the available data; there are currently more than 6 billion email accounts in the world – approximately one for each person!

Category: Internet, Inventions, Technology

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