09 October 2011


It was forty years (forty years) ago this month that the first email was sent. The text read something like ~ "Greetings! I am an investment banker in Nigeria, and your name was suggested to me as someone with vision who might be interested in helping to finance the Trans-Saharan Olive Oil Pipeline." Well, not really. According to Martin Bryant's article, "In the late 1960s, MIT graduate Ray Tomlinson was working at research and development firm Bolt, Beranek and Newman. His work included contributing to technologies related to the ARPANET, the military communications network that was the earliest form of the Internet. This included a file transfer program for mainframe computers.

"Within this file transfer experience, Tomlinson was assigned to modify a program .... to allow messages to be sent between two different computers, and in October 1971 he cracked it. Tomlinson doesn't remember what that first email message actually said .... but whatever it was, it traveled a distance of one meter between two separate computers. One small step for a message, one giant leap for mankind."

Bryan's article takes us through the history of email ~ its birth, growth, limiting problems, and the technologies which may replace email entirely. Just my luck. I didn't become active online until the 1990s, so email feels more natural to me than does texting or instant messaging. Adapt or perish, it seems.

For those of you who spend much time online and sometimes encounter a slow or stalled website or application, here is a resource which may allow you to test whether the problem is with your computer or the other end. Coincidentally, the testing website is called Down For Everyone Or Just For Me? I have insufficient experience with its use to give it thumbs up or thumbs down, so please report your own results at the "comments" prompt at the bottom of this post. Thanks.

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