The man who invented email as we know it, Raymond Tomlinson, died this weekend at the age of 74, according to The Sunday Morning Herald. Tomlinson was not only credited with creating email messages, but also the use of the @ symbol in digital communications.
“In 1971 [Tomlinson] developed ARPNET’s first application for network email by combining the SNDMSG and CPYNET programs, allowing messages to be sent to users on other computers,” the official biography of Ramon Tomlinson in the Internet Hall of Fame reads. “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.”
Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map. #RIP
— Gmail (@gmail) March 6, 2016
In fact, the @ symbol is even more widespread today, used on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram to direct messages to users. The Sydney Morning Herald said Tomlinson is also credited with pushing for the “Subject” and “From” fields in emails, too.
Many people have expressed thanks to Tomlinson on social networks. Even Google’s Gmail said: “Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map. #RIP.”
Tomlinson is thought to have died from a heart attack.