when was email invented? History of email

Emails are integral to our personal and professional life. From organizing a meeting to paying phone bills, receiving your kid’s progress report, and exchanging confidential official documents, everything is email-based these days. But do you when was email invented and when did email start being sent?

This blog discusses how Ray Tomlinson sent out his first emails and how they evolved over the years. 

Brief History of Email

Have you wondered when was the first email sent?

It was sent in 1971. Ray Tomlinson was the man behind this revolutionary step. He came up with an innovative software called SNDMSG. He sent this history-making email to a desktop that was present in his own room in order to check the efficiency of the software. He was the one who started using the “@” symbol while sending emails. 

However, the noteworthy thing is that the term “email” was coined much later. 

Milestones In The Email Journey

Let’s have a brief look at some of the major milestones of emails:

1971- When was email invented?

If you are wondering when email was invented, it was in 1971 by Tomlinson. He developed a program that let users send messages to different computers that were a part of the ARPANET system. 

ARPANET, or Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, was produced by the U.S. Department of Defense Agency. It uses packet-switch technology to send and receive data with built-in error correction and package assembly. It’s actually the first architecture of the internet system.

1973 – First Email Standard

At Darpa, the proposal for the first email standard was made. This included basic things like the fields of to and from, email forwarding, etc. 

1976 – The Queen Sent Her First-Ever Email

Queen Elizabeth II sent the first email on ARPANET’s electronic mail program on her visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. She used the username HME2 (Her Majesty Elizabeth II) and was the first head to do so.

1978 – First Ever Spam Email

In 1978, Gary Thuerk became the “Father of Spam” by sending an email marketing message to multiple ARPANET users. As per his claims, Gary made as much as $13 million by sending phishing and spam emails. 

1979 – Development of Email Program

Shiva Ayyadurai created an interoffice program at the age of 14 while he was at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He named this program “EMAIL.” He went on to copyright the term in 1982. 

1988 – Microsoft Mail

Microsoft Mail came up in 1988 for MAC OS users. This mail service was meant for AppleTalk Networks users to send messages to each other. Microsoft released the second version later in 1991, which was more like the ancestor of Outlook.

1989 – Email Got a Voice

It was in 1989 that people started getting a voice notification – “You’ve got a mail.” The impressive voice of Elwood Edwards garnered him lots of attention. And at the same time, it increased the enthusiasm and excitement of people who received emails.

1991 – Email in Space

The first-ever email from space was sent almost 31 years ago by the crew of the Atlantis space shuttle. They used a Macintosh Portable to send the message. 

1992 – Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension

MIME or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension allows people to send emails in different formats such as character sets and multimedia attachments (audio, images, videos etc.)

1993 – The Birth of Webmail

Hallam-Baker, a cybersecurity professional and CERN employee, discovered the first-ever version of webmail. It was just a test version and could not make it to the public arena. 

2002 – Wireless email

Blackberry 5810 was released in the year 2002. The first emails to go wireless was through these Blackberry devices in 2002.  

2003 – CAN-SPAM Act

The then president George W. Bush passed the CAN-SPAM Act. Also known as Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing, this Act aimed at regulating commercial emails. 

2004 –  Gmail

Gmail was launched in the year 2004. It became a complete game changer and gave tough competition to webmail competitors. Back then, Gmail used to offer a storage space worth 1 GB. Gmail also introduced features like email threads and enhanced search options. 

2010 – Responsive Emails

With easy accessibility to smartphones and iPhones, the biggest challenge was making email smartphone friendly. 2010 was the time around which efforts started being made to make these emails responsive. Smartphone users could now open emails on their smartphones. 

2012 – Presidential Email Success

Obama has always been a torchbearer of modernization. In 2012 during his re-election campaigns, team Obama embraced email marketing and social media marketing to reach out to the common people. The subject on his emails always read, “Hey!” 

Are Emails Safe?

No! Emails cannot be considered 100% safe. Although email authentication protocols like DMARC make emails safer for business. There are still some potential threats that you must be aware of. 

  • An Email Goes Through Multiple Networks

When an email is sent, it goes through multiple networks and servers. At each server or network, there is a potential threat of the email getting intercepted by hackers. 

  • The Sender of an Email Has Absolutely No Control

After sending an email, you lose control over it completely. Threat actors can access it to attempt malicious activities like scamming. They can also forward it to your prospects and clients by creating malicious attachments. Since the email body speaks about your company, you’ll be held accountable for all the nefarious activities.

  • Email Encryption is Not 100% Fail-Proof

Email encryption is vulnerable to hacking. Previously, in Outlook, a glitch was discovered called EFAIL. Later in 2019, it was discovered that attackers could run commands posing as admins. 

  • Phishing Risk is Increasing With Every Passing Day

Phishing is often used to gather users’ personal information, such as credit card details, usernames, and passwords. Phishing emails are used by imposters to trick you into sharing confidential and sensitive details, which are exploited to attempt nefarious activities in your name or make monetary transactions. Even spam filters fail to block phishing attempts completely. 

How To Prevent Email-Based Phishing and Spoofing Attacks?

Fortunately, email-based phishing and spoofing can be minimized using email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and BIMI.


SPF or Sender Policy Framework specifies the email servers they use to send emails. This makes it challenging for malicious actors to spoof sender information.


DKIM is short for DomainKeys Identified Mail, which is based on public key cryptography and works by adding a digital signature to the message header.


A DMARC helps specify what to do if an email fails both SPF and DKIM checks by choosing one of the policies- none, reject, or quarantine. The DMARC DNS record also specifies how the recipient can report to the domain owner if an email fails authentication. 


BIMI is short for Brand Indicators for Message Identification, a protocol that affixes your exclusive brand logo to all your emails via your brand’s email domain. 

Final Thoughts

Emails have become an integral part of our lives. We use it for professional as well as personal purposes. From the 1970s to 2022, emails have traversed a long way. In all these years, emails have undergone revolutionary changes. In the history of email, programmers and computer experts have contributed significantly to revamping emails time and again.

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