E- mail in­ven­tor dies at 74

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY -

RAY Tom­lin­son, the Amer­i­can pro­gram­mer widely cred­ited with in­vent­ing e- mail, has died. He was 74. Be­fore Tom­lin­son in­vented di­rect elec­tronic mes­sages be­tween users on dif­fer­ent ma­chines on a cer­tain net­work in 1971. Be­fore then, users could only write mes­sages to oth­ers us­ing the same com­puter.

“A true tech­nol­ogy pi­o­neer, Ray was the man who brought us e- mail in the early days of net­worked com­put­ers,” his em­ployer, Raytheon, said in a state­ment.

“His work changed the way the world com­mu­ni­cates and yet, for all his ac­com­plish­ments, he re­mained hum­ble, kind and gen­er­ous with his time and tal­ents, He will be missed by one and all.”

A com­pany spokesman said Tom­lin­son passed away on March 5, and the cause of death was not yet con­firmed.

Tributes poured in from the on­line world.

“Thank you, Ray Tom­lin­son, for in­vent­ing e- mail and putting the @ sign on the map. # RIP,” Google’s Gmail team tweeted.

Vint Cerf, con­sid­ered one of the fa­thers of the In­ter­net who was once a man­ager of the US De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Projects Agency ( Darpa), lamented the “very sad news” of Tom­lin­son’s pass­ing.

When Tom­lin­son in­vented the user@ host stan­dard for e- mail ad­dresses, it was ap­plied at Darpa’s Arpanet, the In­ter­net’s pre­cur­sor. He was the first to use the @ sym­bol in this way, to dis­tin­guish a user from its host.

The Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy grad­u­ate de­tailed his cre­ation on his blog, in an at­tempt to pre­vent leg­end from over­tak­ing the facts.

“The first mes­sage was sent be­tween two ma­chines that were lit­er­ally side by side” con­nected only through Arpanet, he wrote on his blog.

“I sent a num­ber of test mes­sages to my­self from one ma­chine to the other. The test mes­sages were en­tirely for­get­table and I have, there­fore, for­got­ten them.

“Most likely the first mes­sage was QWERTYUIOP or some­thing sim­i­lar,” he added, re­fer­ring to the first let­ters on the tra­di­tional English- lan­guage key­board.

“When I was sat­is­fied that the pro­gram seemed to work, I sent a mes­sage to the rest of my group ex­plain­ing how to send mes­sages over the net­work. The first use of net­work e- mail an­nounced its own ex­is­tence.” – AFP Re­laxnews

Tom­lin­son, who im­ple­mented the first email sys­tem, died re­port­edly of a heart at­tack on March 5. – AFP

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