Email inventor dies

Ray TomlinsonRay Tomlinson, the bloke who invented email, has died of a heart attack. He was 74.

Tomlinson was a part a team of programmers at research and design company Bolt Beranek and Newman (now BBN Technologies) in Cambridge, Mass. He was experimenting with internal messaging in 1971 and hit on the idea of sending a text message between computers using the new called Arpanet, routing it using an “@” symbol.

At the time, it was used mostly for accounting purposes – 10 bananas @ 25 cents – but some linguists think the marking dates to the sixth century, invented as an abbreviation for the Latin word meaning “toward” or “at”.

The first email was sent between two computers which were 10 feet apart so he could wheel his chair from one to the other and type a message on one, and then go to the other, and then see what he had tried to send.”

By the 1980s government and military personnel were actively using the system. And by the 1990s email had become one of two pillars of the budding consumer Internet, alongside the World Wide Web.Tomlinson was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012.

Tomlinson said that at the time he felt that he had discovered something with the “@” symbol which would have some impact,  but he did not realise how quick it would happen.