Email outlives its inventor
I have written about the perceived death of email before, but sadly this time I’m writing about the death of the inventor of email. Ray Tomlinson passed away earlier this month from a suspected heart attack at the age of 74. This is a big deal for us here at Striata, as we have built our global business based on an idea Ray had in 1971 while thinking “what sort of problem can I use this ARPANET (a very early network) to solve.”
Incredibly, whilst computers have changed from machines the size of a house to devices you can wear on your wrist, the fundamentals of email; the underlying protocols and the familiar somebody@somewhere address format have remained the same as Ray’s invention all those years ago.
The evolution of email
At Striata, we send out millions of emails each day; everything from marketing messages to highly secure invoices, statements and policies. And while the scale of even our operations would have amazed Ray in 1971 – the first network using email had around 1,000 users on it – the fundamental use is just as he envisioned so long ago; a mix of work and personal messaging based on the requirement of the user.
Of course, modern emails look very different to the plain green text that started this revolution in communications. Nowadays, we have full color HTML emails with images, embedded video, tracked links and buttons that enable eBilling adoption and payments.
But beyond these changes, surely even Ray couldn’t have imagined how important an email address would become. Nowadays, your email address not only allows you to send and receive messages, it has also become your digital identity. Around half of my own 70+ website and app logins use my email address as the ID and virtually all of them require an email address for identity verification purposes. To be without an email address nowadays is to be digitally homeless!
Email – still the core building block in a digital world
As Whatsapp and Twitter and other communications channels continue to appear and develop, rest-assured that email isn’t going anywhere soon. It’s a core building block in this digital world and remains the medium of choice for businesses sending complex (more than 140 characters!), media-rich electronic communications directly to customers.
In some respects, it is sad–and surprising–that in the incredibly fast-paced world of computing and technology, Ray’s email protocol outlived him. But email remains as a testimony to the man, and a lasting legacy he could surely be very proud of.
So, let’s raise a virtual glass in cyberspace to the man who invented email and enabled much of the digital lifestyle we all enjoy today. And remember that whilst Ray is no longer with us, you can always contact Striata if your email communications are more 1971 than cutting edge!