Heros of the Internet
For once this isn't a mad theory although the mad theories
on this site do in part owe an awful lot to the people listed
here as without them you probably wouldn't be reading this.
I mean the people who put the @ into e-mail, decided they
wanted to share pictures and text or were there in the background
steering the whole ship making sure that something came from
I'm slowly adding to these pages, but if you have anyone
you think should be included, see the contact link on the
• Editor of the RFC
• Who invented e-mail
Jonathan B. Postel - Editor of the techie notes
We start our list with someone its very likely you've never
heard of - Jonathan Postel. Actually I'd never heard of him
either until today, but from what I can gather he is one of
the people who gave us the RFC.
OK, I can see you're now looking really confused! :)
RFC stands for Request For Comments and is effectively a
working draft of any new internet standard from TCP and IP
which get information around to HTTP, POP3, SMTP, BGP, FTP
and well everything else that I can't remember off hand. Once
an RFC has been bounced around the bods it eventually becomes
a standards track RFC.
The RFC's are updated by the RFC
editor and from the late 1960's until October 1998 when
Postel suddenly died he was the RFC Editor and therefore
the guy ultimately responsible for keeping order in the only
place that the entire world co-operates. (Oh and yes he did
have a beard!)
Sidenote: For anyone thinking, hang on the Internet
only started in the 1970's, well you'd be right but before
that was ARPANET [really cheesy quote time]
- It's the Net Jim, but not as we know it! ;-)
As with most of the things that will appear here you probably
take the @ in e-mail for granted. However have you ever wondered
- "why an @"?
Theres no mystical meaning about the @ symbol in the computer
world and no real reason why a * ! $ ; , - or practically
any other symbol couldn't be used but sometime back in 1971
the @ appeared in e-mail.
Now this isn't e-mail as we know it today....we're not talking
of sending an e-postcard to your Aunt Jane in LA in 0.4 seconds.
Back in those days mailboxes were restricted to a single machine
- actually it was about as useful as leaving post-it notes
on your computer as the messages could only be stored on the
local machine, but just a little more secure.
However things were a changing in a company called BBN who
created the thing called ARPANET (see links in the post above).
Ray Tomlinson from BBN was playing around with connecting
all 15 nodes of ARPANET (yes 15!) with a protocol called CYPNET
when he had the brilliant idea of hooking the mail program
to CYPNET and flash, bang, wollop he created what is today
known as e-mail!
Now of course there had to be a way to distinguish whether
the e-mail was for the local user or a remote user so Tomlinson
basically thought "hmm...the user is at another
location" - hey presto, we have the @
If you want the full depth report on how
e-mail started, it's in the Internet Archives. Unfortunately
the site pretext.com which ran the article seems to have disappeared.
Back to mad theories....