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News Editor

35 years of accumulating e-mail

Feb 14, 20061 min
Enterprise Applications

The Network World IT department was hard at work last weekend trying to unclog the arteries of our Exchange servers. People tend to get a lot of e-mail in this company — and the place has more than its share of pack rats.

One missive about the project from Director of Network IT Rocco Bortone included an off-handed Civil War reference, followed by this:

“Since we are on the subject of e-mail and history … Did you know Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of the software that allowed messages to be sent between computers, sent the first e-mail in October 1971.  This year will make it the 35th anniversary.”

“For those of you who may have that message, please delete it.  :)”

Apparently, no one has it, not even my co-workers who never met an e-mail they didn’t believe warranted saving.

According to Tomlinson’s site: “The first message of any substance was a message announcing the availability of network e-mail. The exact content is unknown, but it gave instructions about using the ‘at’ sign to separate the user’s name from his host computer name.”

Two days later Tomlinson started getting spam.

News Editor

In addition to my editing duties, I have written Buzzblog since January, 2006 and wrote the 'Net Buzz column in Network World's dearly departed print edition for 13 years. Feel free to e-mail me at