You use it every minute of your life and quite rightly, it has changed the way our generation communicates. What am I talking about here ? Pretty evident from that title — email. And sadly, the man who invented this revolutionising communication medium and gave it “@” identity — Ray Tomlinson — has died at 74.

In a statement confirming Tomlinson’s death, Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble said,

A true technology pioneer, Ray was the man who brought us email in the early days of networked computers.

Doble said Tomlinson died on Saturday morning but he did not know if he was at home and did not have a confirmed cause of death. Tomlinson worked in the company’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There has been an outpouring of grief over Ray’s death, with everyone from the likes of Google to every other valley giant tweeting about the sad demise.

Tomilson, who hails originally from Amsterdam, New York, went to MIT for schooling in the 1960s. It was during these days in the research and development company Bolt Beranek and Newman – now Raytheon BBN Technologies – when he devised email.

According to his Internet Hall Of Fame biography, he developed ARPANET’s first application in 1971 for network email by combining the SNDMSG and CPYNET programs, allowing messages to be sent to users on other  computers. He chose the @ sign to separate local from global emails in the mailing address. Person to person network email was born and user@host became the standard for email addresses, as it remains today.

The biography further goes on to mention how Tomilson’s discovery “fundamentally changing the way people communicate, including the way businesses, from huge corporations to tiny mom-and-pop shops, operate and the way millions of people shop, bank, and keep in touch with friends and family, whether they are across town or across oceans.

It wasn’t an assignment at all, he was just fooling around; he was looking for something to do with ARPANET,”

Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman said of his creation of network email.

As for his choosing of “@” symbol for email, he did it to connect the username with the destination address, which eventually became a part of the international language of communication.


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