The tech world has reacted with sadness to the news that Ray Tomlinson, widely credited with having invented email, had passed away aged 74 on Sunday.
A foundation stone of the modern office it is difficult to imagine life today without the ubiquitous messaging service but up to 1971 the world had to do just that until Tomlinson sent the first direct electronic message via ARPANET – a precursor to today’s internet.
Not only did Tomlinson create email but he also developed innovative concepts such as requisitioning the then little-used@ symbol to denote locations and name fields.
Amongst those to comment on Tomlinson’s passing was Gmail which tweeted: “Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map.”
Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map. #RIP
— Gmail (@gmail) March 6, 2016
Asked why he’s created the service during a 2012 interview with The Verge Tomlinson explained: |”but someone had to be there to receive the call." No voicemail back then; there were few answering machines and people who could afford it subscribed to answering services.
"Everyone latched onto the idea that you could leave messages on the computer.As the network grew and the growth of all that accelerated, it became a really useful tool: there were millions of people you could potentially reach."
There were an estimated 3.9bn email accounts in use worldwide in 2013 although the service has lost some of its ubiquity amidst the rise of texting, social media and alternative messaging apps.