, a bearded computer scientist
, was seated in front of two giant computers
in a windowless room in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1971
, attempting to send the world's first email.
He'd been coding and debugging for hours, attempting in vain to send a message from one
cabinet-sized computer to another.
He tried again, this time using a teletype keyboard to type his name: TOMLINSON. The
@ symbol – a rarely used key he had picked as a separator – was followed by the name of the other computer.
Tomlinson rolled his chair over to the teletype on the second machine and typed TYPE MAILBOX
on the keyboard.
There was silence for a little moment. The teletype then sprang to life with a rattling.
The first email in history had arrived.
'The stuff was sitting there much like when you open your inbox now,' Tomlinson added.
On March 5, 2016, Tomlinson, a principal engineer at Raytheon BBN Technologies, died. When he died, he was 74 years old.
The email program developed by Tomlinson transformed communications, dramatically altering how people and companies interact. People changed how they shop, bank, and even remain in touch with friends and family, whether they were across town or on the other side of the world, new communication method, which converted
businesses from global corporations to small businesses.
Email is used by an estimated 5.6 billion individuals on the planet today. They transmit over
205 billion emails per day, obliterating traditional time and space limitations.
His initial email barely traveled 100 yards, from a computer called BBN-TENEXB
to a router elsewhere in the facility, then back to BBN-TENEXA.