Raymond Samuel Tomlinson
(born 1941, Amsterdam, New York
) is a programmer
who implemented an email
system in 1971 on the ARPANET. Email had been previously sent on other networks such as AUTODIN
. It was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to the ARPAnet
. (Previously, mail could be sent only to others who used the same computer.) To achieve this, he used the @ sign
to separate the user from their machine, which has been used in email addresses ever since.
The first email Tomlinson sent was a test e-mail. It was not preserved and Tomlinson describes it as insignificant, something like "QWERTYUIOP"
. This is commonly misquoted as "The first e-mail was QWERTYUIOP".
At first, his email messaging system wasn't thought to be a big deal. When Tomlinson showed it to his colleague Jerry Burchfiel
, he said "Don't tell anyone! This isn't what we're supposed to be working on."
Tomlinson was born in Amsterdam, New York
, but his family soon moved to the small, unincorporated village of Vail Mills, New York
. He attended Broadalbin Central School in nearby Broadalbin, New York
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