E-mail creator Ray Tomlinson dead at 74

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,617   +124
Staff member

Ray Tomlinson, the man credited with creating e-mail as we know it today, died of a suspected heart attack Saturday morning at the age of 74.

Tomlinson attended college at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1963 before picking up a S.M. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) two years later.

In 1971, Tomlinson developed the first network e-mail application for the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET, perhaps best described as the technical foundation of the Internet). Notably, Tomlinson selected the "@" symbol to separate local from global e-mails which bore the user@host standard that has been used worldwide for decades.

Tomlinson was the recipient of multiple awards over the years including the George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award from the American Computer Museum in 2000. He also won a Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame a year later. In 2012, he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society joining other well-known recipients including Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf.

According to his official biography on the Internet Hall of Fame's website, he is ranked number four on the MIT list of top 150 innovators and ideas from the prestigious school.

Image courtesy The Verge

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Posts: 677   +115
Ray Tomlinson created the @ symbol and text messaging. Email was invented by Shiva Ayyadurai @va_shiva
He invented the ampersat??? really??? That symbol is over 500 years old, that guy just died? That's the big story, man lives for over 500 years.

You do realize it's used in physics as the symbol for amphours, right?
What we know as @ has a lot of different monikers—including “at sign,” “at symbol,” “ampersat,” and “apetail”—but is unusual in that it doesn’t have a widely-accepted name in English. In Spanish, it is known as an arroba, and in French the arobase. @ has two primary usages—its original one, used in commerce to mean “at the rate of,” and more recently, “directed at” (primarily in email and in social media like Twitter). It has been claimed (by Italian professor Giorgio Stabile) that the symbol is actually over 500 years old, to represent an “amphora”—a unit of capacity used in commerce. It first made its way onto a typewriter as early as 1885, and has since found its way into our hearts.

A couple of fun facts:

– The Spanish arroba was a unit of weight equivalent to 25 pounds.
– The names for @ in other languages often derive from the idea that it looks like an animal. To wit: apenstaartje (Dutch for “monkey’s tail); papacy (Greek for “little duck); dalphaengi (Korean for “snail”); sobachka (Russian for “little dog”).