Ray Tomlinson - Email

Ray Tomlinson was a computer engineer for Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), the company hired by the United States Defence Department to build the first Internet in 1968.

Today he is still working as a software engineer for BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

He used a file transfer protocol that he was working on called CYPNET to adapt the SNDMSG program so it could send electronic messages to any computer on the ARPANET network. He chose the @ symbol to tell which user was "at" what computer. The @ goes in between the user's login name and the name of his/her host computer. He created one of the biggest Communications phenomena almost by accident - e-mail. In 1971 he was tinkering with a programme that allowed staff at ARPANET to leave messages for each other. He'd been working on an experimental computer program called CYPNET that transferred files between linked computers, and thought it would be a neat idea if you could transfer messages as well as files. Therefore he instigated the invention of email to make life easier for himself and where his employer did not ask him to do this. He chose the '@' symbol to mark the difference between a message that needed to go to a mailbox on the local computer and one that was headed out onto the network. Typically, he told his colleagues about it via the mail system and it caught on like wildfire.

The content of the first email message - from him on one computer to himself on another -" is forgotten". Don't ask me why he chose these words, but that's what it said. He didn't make a big deal of his breakthrough. When he showed it to his colleague Jerry Burchfiel, he said, "Don't tell anyone! This isn't what we're supposed to be working on". For believe it or not at the time he believed that his employer would not be happy if they found out that he was in company time, working on his pet interest. He even thought that it was a well enough reason to get fired.

Incredibly, it took about five years before his employer realised what a hot property they were sat on.

Therefore is it not clear, that if the world developed a mechanism that allowed all humankind to participate in the world's scientific progress, unparalleled socio-economic advancements would ensue, more than the world has ever seen before. This is the basic thinking behind the concept of ORE-Incubator centres spanning the whole globe and where these centres of creative excellence would be the servants of all humankind. Indeed in this respect we believe at the WIF that the most destructive element to mankind's continual survival is the sheer waste of the creative talent and the creative thoughts that are lost in every successive life-span, for with every generation we estimate that these unique thoughts die with over 99% of the world's population'.

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