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50 Fascinating Facts About 50 Years of Email

50 Facts About Email

Email celebrates its golden anniversary in 2021. Fifty long years have passed. Here’s for another 50?

It only seems fitting to honor it with a definitive retrospective. What has happened with email in the last half a century? To say in short - quite a lot. And to give email its due, we have to go way back in time, into the sixties. 

In this blog post, we have decided to present 50 facts about email you might find interesting. 

Without further ado, let’s get on with it!

  1. The very first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson while he was working for the government-funded project ARPANET, which eventually became the internet.
  2. Tomlinson doesn’t remember how the first email looked, but said “It might have looked like ‘QWERTYUIOP’”. No “Hello, World” necessary.
  3. The inventor of email preferred the hyphenated option. E-mail > email? Nobody is perfect.
  4. In his 2012 Verge interview, Ray Tomlinson admitted that email is used, by and large, exactly as he envisioned. He died in 2016, leaving behind an indisputable legacy. Rest in power!
  5. While Ray Tomlinson is considered to be the father of email, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai claimed that he created the very first version of email, when he was just 14. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai might have coined the term ‘email’.
  6. The first head-of-state to try email was none other than Queen Elizabeth II. She tried the mail program during a visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. Her email username? HME2, which stands for “Her Majesty Elizabeth II.” God save HME2!
  7. The first email standard was established in 1973. Email underwent some modifications in 1977, including the “to” and “from” fields, plus added the ability to forward emails to people who were not initial recipients.
  8. The first email with an emoji belongs to Kevin McKenzie, who sent it on April 12, 1979. His emoji was the symbol “-)” which stood for “tongue in cheek.” Kevin requested Message Services Group to add smileys to the impersonal digital language.
  9. Email was never meant to be secure. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) was created in 1982 standardized the way mail servers send and receive messages. 
  10. Other protocols include the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) and the Post Office Protocol (POP), which emerged in the mid-'80s.
  11. The first spam email was sent in 1978, just one year after the email’s inception. 
  12. The definition of ‘spam’ got added to the New Oxford Dictionary only in 1998. 
  13. The origin of calling junk email as ‘spam’ is attributed to the classic Monty Python sketch, where customers were annoyed by being offered something they do not want. SPAM-SPAM-SPAM!
  14. If email has a father, then spam ought to have one too, right? Correct. Gary Thurek is considered to hold that title after sending hundreds of unwanted emails to ARPANET users. That ‘email campaign’ was promoting Digital Equipment Corporation and made $13 million in sales.
  15. In 1996, software engineers Dave Rand and Paul Vixie created the non-profit Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS). It simply blocklisted spammy IP addresses. 
  16. 1996 saw one of the biggest spam campaigns at the time - involving six million email addresses. The irony is, it was initiated by a web hosting service called Xoom, which advertised a free product that could stop spam.
  17. Three years later, Seth Godin and his agency Yoyodyne decided to explore permission marketing - by building a list of subscribers who wanted to receive emails. This initiative got Seth Godin fired from the Direct Marketing Association because it challenged the status quo a bit too much. As of now, Godin is a member of the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame.
  18. Adult-related content is the second-biggest spam category, accounting for roughly 31.7% of all spam messages.
  19. In the late 1990s, Yahoo and Hotmail accounts were only 4MB in size. An average-sized song would probably take more space today.
  20. Mailworm called “ILOVEYOU” caused $1.54 billion damage and attacked 3.1 million computers worldwide from May 1 to May 5, 2000. The virus sent itself to all available contacts in MS Outlook after it was opened. It got to the Guinness Book of Records for causing colossal damage to the world economy.
  21. In 2003 The United States set legislation called “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing” – aka the CAN-SPAM Act. Mere 32 years after the email was born. CAN-SPAM considers it a misdemeanor to spoof a “From” field and requires a way for people to opt out, but the law does not make it illegal to send unsolicited email marketing messages. 
  22. Canada had a different idea in mind and created the Anti-Spam Legislation. The CASL requires permission or action before receiving an email and applies to social media, text messages, and other digital communications. 
  23. Spammers receive just one reply for every 12,500,000 emails sent, but spam email sites earn senders around $7,000 per day.
  24. Email spam costs businesses $20.5 billion every year.
  25. The end of the eighties also saw Microsoft release the first commercially available email product MSMail - the predecessor of Exchange and Outlook products.
  26. AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” notification helped make email more popular. Elwood Edwards, the voice behind the message, had a broadcasting background and recorded a few lines in his living room as a favor to his wife, who worked at AOL.
  27. Mr. Edwards only got $200 for his services and got some viral attention in 2016 while driving for Uber. 
  28. The first galactic email happened in the early nineties when the Atlantis Shuttle sent the first email from space. Macintosh Portable was used for that mission. The message read: “Hello Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew. This is the first AppleLink from space. Having a GREAT time, wish you were here,…send cryo and RCS! Hasta la vista, baby,…we’ll be back!
  29. Email evolved from just being text in 1992 thanks to the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME). It supports text in character sets other than ASCII and enables multimedia attachments such as images, audio, and videos. 
  30. Email formatting was introduced in 1992, thanks to CompuServe. The ISP introduced an email editor that allowed people to use different colors, fonts, and emojis.  
  31. The first version of webmail was developed by Phillip Hallam-Baker, a cybersecurity expert working for CERN. His version did not see the light of day and was only tested. The trailblazer’s idea pushed ISP’s to bundle free webmail into their service offerings in the mid-nineties, giving us Hotmail and RocketMail (now Yahoo! Mail).
  32. BlackBerry got a cult following in 2002 mainly because they focused on mobile email. BlackBerry 5810 was the first device considered to be a mobile phone with email capabilities.
  33. Gmail was launched in 2004 and changed the landscape completely. It offered 1 GB of storage space (quite a lot at the time) and brought improved search and threaded conversations.
  34. The rise of Apple kickstarted mobile optimization for emails, and the idea of designing and developing responsive emails emerged around 2010. Around half of all emails today are opened on mobile devices.
  35. The first version of Gmail was created in just one day by computer engineer Paul Buchhelt.
  36. Gmail introduced tabbed inbox only in 2013. This introduction provided email marketing people with more deliverability issues than ever before.
  37. Email was used heavily by Barack Obama during the president’s 2012 reelection campaign. His most-opened subject line? “Hey”. Interestingly enough, political campaigns are not subject to the CAN-SPAM Act.
  38. According to Spamhaus, the five most spammy nations are: The United States, China, Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Japan.
  39. Tuesday is the best day of the week to send an email.
  40. 2018 saw the emergence of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which made email marketers be better at their jobs and convince people to opt-in for emails. 
  41. 2.4 billion emails are sent every single second, and there are currently over 4 billion email users worldwide. 
  42. The average person checks their email about 15 times per day, according to Forbes.
  43. Only 14% of the emails a person receives every day are considered important. This makes sense since the average office employee receives 122 emails a day and sends out 40 business emails daily.
  44. As many as 85% of all organizations have been targeted by phishing scams in 2021. Microsoft accounts are accounting for 43% of all phishing attempts. Here’s how you can identify phishing emails in just a few seconds.
  45. 22.43 billion is the average number of legitimate email messages sent over the internet every day.
  46. Homer Simpson’s email address is ‘chunkylover53@aol.com’ as revealed in one of the  episodes. One of the producers tried to manage the incoming emails, but soon got overwhelmed with the sheer number of messages. Later someone hacked Homer’s inbox and spammed away from it. D’oh...
  47. People own about 1.8 accounts per user on average. How many do you own?
  48. The most popular password for email protection is "123456." A lot of lazybones on this planet.
  49. Thanks to the shift to remote work and online learning, email became extremely important for crisis communication during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  50. StealthMail is offering a special trial version to meet the increased need for employees to work from home in response to the coronavirus. 

As they say, email is king, and the king needs his entourage.

StealthMail offers email security solutions that help businesses fend off cyberattacks, meet regulatory compliance goals, and prevent email communication from data breaches.

Start your free trial today!


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