E-mail inventor: I didn’t foresee spam

Thirty-seven years after the first e-mail was sent, its creator says he never imagined it would become a tool for criminalsRay Tomlinson does not recall the contents of the first e-mail that was ever sent.He thinks it was probably QWERTY, or another meaningless set of letters produced swiping one’s hand across the top of the computer keyboard.Whatever it said, at around 7pm one autumn evening in 1971, the first message using Mr Tomlinson’s fledgling software, known then as the ‘Send Message Program’, travelled the short distance of a metre from one computer to a neighbouring machine, and electronic mail was born.

Did Mr Tomlinson have any idea quite the havoc – not to mention large-scale criminal enterprise – his creation would be capable of unleashing?”Absolutely not. At that time, the number of people who used e-mail was very small – maybe between 500 to 1,000. So if you were getting spam, you’d know who was sending it. You’d be able to say to them: that’s not a good thing to do.”

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