The inventor of email Ray Tomlinson passed away and this post titled with an ‘@’ is in honor of his accomplishments. How we communicate online continues to change but being able to reach one person either across the room or across the world has always been the goal. In many ways email was the original social media and our world has continued to be more connected ever since. We even use the ‘@’ to denote our username handles on other platforms besides email. As often as I’ve said the world of email is going away it is still the only medium I rely on to contact almost everyone I interact with. Odds are that isn’t changing any time soon.
Tomlinson sent the very first email back in 1971; at the time, he was working in Boston at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN), a company that was instrumental in the development of a very early version of the internet, called ARPANET. As an employee, he was “looking for problems [ARPANET] could solve,” Tomlinson told The Verge in a 2012 interview.
Others had thought about sending messages to other users before, and there were some early versions that let you share notes to users on the same computer, but Tomlinson came up with the SNDMSG command. Unlike what came before it, SNDMSG actually sent mail files to the recipient’s computers. It was the first networked messaging program.
He also decided to use the @ symbol to designate a user from its host. The decision lifted the humble symbol from obscurity to international icon — it even entered MOMA’s collection in 2010. The fact it was little-used at the time made it appealing to Tomlinson, as it reduced ambiguity. Also, as he liked to say, “It’s the only preposition on the keyboard.” [SOURCE]