Email History

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  • Email started in the mid 1960s and evolved massively with the ARPANET computer network. Early email addresses had to specify a path i.e. exactly which machine a message was going to travel on to get from the sender to the receiver. Messages often got lost and could take as long as a week to reach their destination. They were often sent at night to minimise the cost of long-distance telephone calls.
  • In 1971 the @ symbol was chosen to combine the user and host name, i.e. username@host.
  • In the early 1980s this was extended to include the domain i.e. username@host.domain which could then be further divided to This standard for email remains today.
  • In the early 1980s, SMTP was developed to provide a more efficient protocol. SMTP allowed a single message with more than one addressee to be sent to a domain. A local server then copied the message to each recipient.
  • 1988 saw the first authorised use of commercial email on the Internet.
  • In 1989 the Compuserve mail system was connected through the Ohio State University network.
  • In 1993 AOL connected their system to the Internet and email became global.

See How email works

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