Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map,” Gmail’s Twitter account said.
Tomlinson, a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT, was working for a Boston technology firm in 1971 when he decided to figure out a way for people to send messages via computer. At the time, Tomlinson recalled, ARPANET — the Internet’s predecessor — was fairly new and the idea of sending messages from computer to computer was novel. Computers themselves were often giant mainframe beasts that filled entire rooms.
“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.