The Common Enemy: Spam was born in 1971, when an MIT engineer used his system-administrator privileges to send an antiwar message to his colleagues

“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” The first spam message, sent in 1971, was very much of its time. It was born when Peter Bos, an engineer at MIT, used his privileges as a system administrator to urge a thousand fellow engineers — including some at the Pentagon — to oppose the Vietnam War.The next spam crisis took place seven years later when a marketer working for the computer giant DEC abused the printed directory of all addresses on Arpanet — the most important computer network of the day — to advertise a DEC open house. This was a rather bold thing to do on a network run by the U.S. government. The episode prompted some farseeing observers — like John McCarthy, the computer scientist who coined the term “artificial intelligence” — to start asking questions about the future. “How should advertising be handled in electronic mail systems?” asked McCarthy of his fellow Arpanet users — a puzzle with which we still struggle today.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324482504578454960570233222.html

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