I think @ is the most popular symbol in the internet community where it connects many people who use emails. Unfortunately, the man behind the idea passes on. Ray Tomlison, one the pioneers of email has passed away at the age of 74.
The world’s renowned email founder invented direct email messages in 1971 which has gained popularity over the years. Before 1971 I think sending electronic message was only a dream in most countries.
Many tech companies and individuals in the tech market paid their tribute to Tomlison. “Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map. #RIP” Gmail posted on Twitter.
Tomlison early life
Tomlison discovered a way of sending messages on a computer while working for a Boston technology firm in 1971. His ability in providing tech solutions was molded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT. In the past, computers were rare to find and the few that were present could fill the entire room because of their massive mainframes.
“Computers were very expensive — I think one we had here, for example, was something on the order of two or three hundred thousand dollars. That’s 1970 dollars. They were a scarce resource,” he told the Verge in 2012.
How @ came to be
The reason for the “@” sign was mundane, he told NPR: Not only was it a little-used symbol, but “it’s the only preposition on the keyboard.”
Why bother at all, given the limited number of people using computers in those days?
Well, Tomlinson told the Verge, the telephone was fine, “but someone had to be there to receive the call.” No voicemail back then; there were few answering machines and people who could afford it subscribed to answering services.
“Everyone latched onto the idea that you could leave messages on the computer,” he said. “As the network grew and the growth of all that accelerated, it became a really useful tool: there were millions of people you could potentially reach.”
In this age of texting, social media and emailing, everybody in the world must have an email to ease communication. In 2013, a study showed there were 3.9 Billion email accounts in the world. The huge number shows that people actually benefited from Hamlison’s invention.