Ray Tomlinson, Creator of Email and Saviour of the @ Symbol, Dies

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Ray Tomlinson, the man who invented email, has reportedly died at the age of 74. The tech pioneer is said to have passed away on Saturday, though a cause of death has not yet been revealed.

Back in 1971, the New Yorker created the first program for sending messages to other computer users through ARPANET, the internet’s predecessor, while working for Bolt Beranek and Newman (now Raytheon BBN Technologies). As he later revealed, he wasn’t actually supposed to be working on such a project, and just wanted to create something interesting.

“It wasn’t an assignment at all," said Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman. "He was just fooling around; he was looking for something to do with ARPANET.” Sadly, Tomlinson didn’t remember the contents of the first ever email. A simple 'Hello'? An ad for the blue pill? A saucy anecdote? We'll never know.

Read More: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended to Invent Email

Tomlinson also picked out the ‘@’ symbol, which was then pretty useless, to connect usernames with addresses. It has, of course, since grown indispensable, but Kuzman believes it would have completely fallen off the map had it not been for Tomlinson.

Gmail's latest tweet sums things up well. Thank you Ray. I’ll try to achieve Inbox Zero for you today. [Guardian]

Image: Verge