Email began as an experiment by the military to be able to send to and from the battlefield. Thus was born email or electronic-mail
The first email was sent in 1972 using two machines by an engineer named Ray Tomlinsin. Later he wrote a mail program for Tenex, the BBN-grown operating system that, by now, was running on most of the ARPANET's PDP-10 machines. (Heliomedia) The mail program was written in two parts (1)to send messages, you would use a program called SNDMSG; (2)to receive mail, you would use the other part called READMAIL.(Heliomedia)
In 1972, the commands MAIL and MLFL were added to the FTP program and provided standard network transport capabilities for email transmission. FTP sent a separate copy of each email to each recipient, and provided the standard ARPANET email functionality until the early 1980's when the more efficient SMTP protocol was developed. Among other improvements, SMTP enabled sending a single message to a domain with more than one addressee, after which the local server would locally copy the message to each recipient. (Livinginternet)
Over the years the email has evolved with many different programs put with it and many people working to improve the email systems.
In 1993, the large network service providers America Online and Delphi started to connect their proprietary email systems to the Internet, beginning the large scale adoption of Internet email as a global standard. (Livinginternet)
The first important email standard was called SMTP, or simple message transfer protocol. SMTP was very simple and is still in use - however, as we will hear later in this series, SMTP was a fairly naïve protocol, and made no attempt to find out whether the person claiming to send a message was the person they purported to be. Forgery was (and still is) very easy in email addresses. These basic flaws in the protocol were later to be exploited by viruses and worms, and by security frauds and spammers forging identities. Some of these problems are still being addressed in 2004.
(Category: Net History)
E-mail predates the Internet; existing e-mail systems were a crucial tool in creating the Internet. 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. Although the exact history is murky, among the first systems to have such a facility were SDC's Q32 and MIT's CTSS. E-mail was quickly extended to become network e-mail, allowing users to pass messages between different computers. The early history of network e-mail is also murky; the AUTODIN system may have been the first allowing electronic text messages to be transferred between users on different computers in 1966, but it is possible the SAGE system had something similar some time before. The ARPANET computer network made a large contribution to the evolution of e-mail. There is one report  which indicates experimental inter-system e-mail transfers on it shortly after its creation, in 1969. Ray Tomlinson initiated the use of the @ sign to separate the names of the user and their machine in 1971 . The common report that he "invented" e-mail is an exaggeration, although his early e-mail programs SNDMSG and READMAIL were very important. The first message sent by Ray Tomlinson is not preserved; it was "a message announcing the availability of network email". The ARPANET significantly increased the popularity of e-mail, and it became the killer app of the ARPANET.
((Origins of E-mail)
BBN was the first company to send an e-mail. BBN stands for Bolt Beranek and Newman. BBN was hired by the US Defense Department and created what is known as the ARPANET. The ARPANET helped to evolved into what is known today as the internet. The first e-mail was sent three years later in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. Ray Tomlinson eventually was the first to use the @ symbol in his emails to show which message was sent at which computer to show that it wasnt a local host.
One of the first new developments when personal computers came on the scene was "offline readers". Offline readers allowed email users to store their email on their own personal computers, and then read it and prepare replies without actually being connected to the network - sort of like Microsoft Outlook can do today. (Net History)
This was particularly useful in parts of the world where telephone costs to the nearest email system were expensive. (often this involved international calls in the early days) With connection charges of many dollars a minute, it mattered to be able to prepare a reply without being connected to a telephone, and then get on the network to send it. It was also useful because the "offline" mode allowed for more friendly interfaces. Being connected direct to the host email system in this era of very few standards often resulted in delete keys and backspace keys not working, no capacity for text to "wrap around" on the screen of the users computer, and other such annoyances. Offline readers helped a lot. (Net History)
The first important email standard was called SMTP, or simple message transfer protocol. SMTP was very simple and is still in use - however, as we will hear later in this series, SMTP was a fairly naïve protocol, and made no attempt to find out whether the person claiming to send a message was the person they purported to be. Forgery was (and still is) very easy in email addresses. These basic flaws in the protocol were later to be exploited by viruses and worms, and by security frauds and spammers forging identities. Some of these problems are still being addressed in 2004. (Net History)
But as it developed email started to take on some pretty neat features. One of the first good commercial systems was Eudora, developed by Steve Dorner in 1988. Not long after Pegasus mail appeared. (Net History)
When Internet standards for email began to mature the POP (or Post Office Protocol) servers began to appear as a standard - before that each server was a little different. POP was an important standard to allow users to develop mail systems that would work with each other. (Net History)
These were the days of per-minute charges for email for individual dialup users. For most people on the Internet in those days email and email discussion groups were the main uses. These were many hundreds of these on a wide variety of topics, and as a body of newsgroups they became known as USENET. (Net History)
With the World Wide Web, email started to be made available with friendly web interfaces by providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Usually this was without charge. Now that email was affordable, everyone wanted at least one email address, and the medium was adopted by not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people. (Net History)