History of Email Email is by far and away the most popular application on the internet. Just about everyone uses email, and generally people use it all of the time. It all began in 1968 with a company called Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN). This firm was hired by the United States Defense Department to create something called the ARPANET, which later became the internet. ARPANET stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, and its purpose was to create a method that military and educational institutions could communicate with each other. In 1971, an engineer named Ray Tomlinson was assigned to a project called SNDMSG. This program was not new; in fact it had existed for a number of years. By today's standards it was more than primitive. All it did was allow users on the same machine to send messages to each other. Users could create text files which would then be delivered to mailboxes on the same machine. A mailbox was simply a text file which could have additional text added to the end. Data could be added, but not deleted or changed. The name of the mailbox was the name of the text file. Ray was assigned to make this simple application do little bit more. As it turned out, he had been working on something called CYPNET, which was intended to transfer files between computers within the ARPANET. "The idea occurred to me that CYPNET could append material to a mailbox file as readily as SNDMSG could," said Ray. So he modified CYPNET to perform one additional task -to append to a file. This was pretty simple and the change was quickly made. After that, Ray made a decision which changed history. He created the format of the email address. He defined it as a mailbox name, the @ sign, and the machine's node name. He used the @ sign because "it seemed to make sense. I used the @ sign to indicate that the user was 'at' some other host rather than being local." He sent himself a message, the contents of which have been lost in time. The first email message was unceremoniously sent between two PDP-10 nodes of the ARPANET network. History had been made. Email usage grew quickly. In fact, a study two years later found that 75% of all ARPANET traffic was email. One of the first big email programs available to the general public (at least the first major one to catch on) is Eudora. This email client was first written in1988 by Steve Dorner. At the time he was an employee at the University of Illinois. Eudora was named for the now deceased Eudora Welty, an author from America. Eudora was the first email client which provided a graphic interface. It was free when it first came out; although once it was purchased by Qualcomm in 1994 it became a professional product. Like most applications on the web, Eudora was king for a few years, then quickly supplanted by the email clients that came with Netscape and Internet Explorer. Both email clients became popular not because they were better than Eudora, but because they were provided for free with the web browser. According to a recent report by Forrester Research, more than half of all Americans use email for an average of half an hour each day. They claim a total of 87 million Americans are active email users. The History of the @ Sign In 1972, Ray Tomlinson sent the first electronic message, now known as e-mail, using the @ symbol to indicate the location or institution of the e-mail recipient. Tomlinson, using a Model 33 Teletype device, understood that he needed to use a symbol that would not appear in anyone's name so that there was no confusion. The logical choice for Tomlinson was the "at sign," both because it was unlikely to appear in anyone's name and also because it represented the word "at," as in a particular user is sitting @ this specific computer. However, before the symbol became a standard key on typewriter keyboards in the 1880s and a standard on QWERTY keyboards in the 1940s, the @ sign had a long if somewhat sketchy history of use throughout the world. Linguists are divided as to when the symbol first appeared. Some argue that the symbol dates back to the 6th or 7th centuries when Latin scribes adapted the symbol from the Latin word ad, meaning at, to or toward. The scribes, in an attempt to simplify the amount of pen strokes they were using, created the ligature (combination of two or more letters) by exaggerating the upstroke of the letter "d" and curving it to the left over the "a." Other linguists will argue that the @ sign is a more recent development, appearing sometime in the 18thcentury as a symbol used in commerce to indicate price per unit, as in 2 chickens @ 10 pence. While these theories are largely speculative, in 2000 Giorgio Stabile, a professor of the history of science at LaSapienza University in Italy, discovered some original14th-century documents clearly marked with the @ sign to indicate a measure of quantity - the amphora, meaning jar. The amphora was a standard-sized terracotta vessel used to carry wine and grain among merchants and, according to Stabile, the use of the @symbol (the upper-case "A" embellished in the typical Florentine script) in trade led to its contemporary meaning of "at the price of." While in the English language, @ is referred to as the "at sign," other countries have different names for the symbol that is now so commonly used in e-mail transmissions throughout the world. Many of these countries associate the symbol with either food or animal names.