In the depths of a research and technology office in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1971, a revolutionary idea emerged. Ray Tomlinson, a young, ingenious computer programmer was working with a team to find a way to send text messages between computers over ARPANET, a computer network created for the U.S. government (and a precursor to the Internet). He would route those messages using an “@” symbol.
There, the email address was born.
At the time, mail could only be sent to those who used the same computer. However, Ray used the “@” sign to separate the username from the name of their machine.
Today, email has become a mainstay of our online lives, a position it enjoys in perpetuity. By the end of 2020, the number of email users worldwide will top approximately 3 billion. Email is the cornerstone of online commerce and significantly impacts online revenue and sales; Email drives CRM activities; gives us access to social media platforms and lets us subscribe to the content and media we opt-in to. And perhaps most importantly, email has evolved from simply a way to send and receive messages into our online identity.
The infographic below takes you along the evolution of email and highlights important milestones and the role it plays in technology and digital marketing.