Raymond Samuel Tomlinson, widely regarded as the father of modern email messaging system has died on 5th March, 2016 from a suspected heart attack. The news was confirmed by his company Raytheon. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ray joined Bolt, Beranek and Newman in 1967 which is now known as BBN Technologies. At this company, Ray first helped create the ARPANET Network Control Program and then in 1971 he created a program that could send messages between different computers using ARPANET. Thus the first email was born.
Ray used the ‘@’ symbol to create an address using username and computer name. When asked why he chose that symbol, Ray said, “it’s the only preposition on the keyboard.” Needless to say, the ‘@’ symbol is still in use today as email grows at a rapid speed. When asked why he felt the need to create email messaging, Ray explained that in 1971, if you called someone the person had to be there to answer. Very few people could afford answering services so the idea of leaving messages to computers was welcomed with great excitement.
Email of course, grew leaps and bounds in the following years, especially after the dot com boom of 90s. According to a study, corporate customers alone send and receive 100 billion mails each year. When asked by the Verge whether email had grown as per what he envisioned, Ray said, “I see email being used, by and large, exactly the way I envisioned. In particular, it’s not strictly a work tool or strictly a personal thing,. Everybody uses it in different ways, but they use it in a way they find works for them.” Ray Tomlinson was inducted in the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. The world of technology mourned his death over social media including Gmail
Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map. #RIP
— Gmail (@gmail) March 6, 2016