Email turns half a century: how have its users evolved?

As with many inventions of the internet age, the specific day the first email was sent is unknown. However, its inventor, the engineer Ray tomlinson, just remember that this event happened in October 1971, therefore, we can say that this important tool is celebrating its anniversary.

To commemorate l50 years since the first email was sent, Validity, the company that created an intelligent email platform, tells us how the profile of email users has evolved, as well as their service. Email has gone from being a tool that was only accessible to a small group of people. researchers in the 70s, to be part of the daily life of any person anywhere in the world, becoming a relevant communication channel for organizations to stay in contact with citizens.

Currently, there are 4 billion email users worldwide and 306 billion messages circulate per day. Validity makes an evolution of the profile of email users:

Decade of 70’s

Intellectuals with a desire for communication: When email was born in the 1970s, its reach was limited to a small circle of university researchers, government employees, and the military. Its inventor, the engineer Ray Tomlinson, had conceived it so that the engineers of Arpanet, the Internet’s forerunner network, which belonged to the United States Department of Defense, could have more direct communication, and it was used mainly for official business related to scientific investigation of the network.

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But as expected shortly after its invention it began to be used for personal matters, which at that time were considered illicit. Leonard Kleinrock, one of the fathers of the internet, has confessed in multiple interviews that he was the first person who gave it an “illegal” use. In 1973, Kleinrock wrote to a colleague in the UK to retrieve the razor he had forgotten on a business trip.

Email users in the 1970s saw the potential of email not only on a personal level, but on a business level as well. Marketing expert Gary Thuerk made the first mass mailing of digital correspondence to 393 addresses in 1978 to advertise the launch of new computers. His audacity cost him a good reprimand from a senior Pentagon official who accused him of violating the use of the network. Despite these and other drawbacks, the campaign generated $ 13 million in sales for Thuerk’s company.

The 80’s

Geeks looking for connection: At the beginning of the 80s, the use of email began to spread among academics and scientists worldwide, and little by little it was reaching the general population with the commercialization of personal computers and the development of different pioneering internet networks. . It is a time when there are different network systems, protocols, and email connections, which prevent global communication.

The e-mail user profile outside the academic, scientific or governmental spheres is a young person with a great interest in technology who seeks immediacy in their day-to-day lives. It is a time of transition in which standards are being worked on for global communication to take place.

The 90’s

Innocents Facing Globalization: The popularization of electronic mail came in the 90s with the World Wide Web and, above all, with webmail, which was born with Hotmail in 1996. The free service, immediacy and ease of use conquered millions of users in around the world, and it quickly became a trend. His fame did not leave anyone indifferent and he even starred in a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

As it became accessible to everyone, companies began to appreciate its business potential, as Gary Thuerk had already done in 1978. Little by little, inboxes began to become saturated with emails that were sent indiscriminately to users to sell product or service. The innocence of users, the lack of tools to filter emails and legal loopholes were the perfect ingredients for the spam phenomenon to occur, which became a global concern of governments and companies in the late 1990s.


Conscientious and demanding with the revolution: The 2000s were a revolution for email users with the launch of Gmail. After the turbulent 90s, users demanded greater control over their inbox, and Gmail understood this cry in 2004 when it launched its service, which offered powerful filters to combat spam and extensive storage.

This technological evolution was added to the efforts that governments and companies were making to control the amount of junk mail that was generated on a day-to-day basis. And at this time a new sector emerged to help in this. Companies such as Return Path were born, which became a globally recognized brand for its contribution to improving deliverability; or like Spamcop and Spamhaus, known for offering spam notification services and block list operators. Email providers began targeting an aware user, who was able to use technology to their advantage, and who needed to be pleased.

In this quest to satisfy the email user, in the 00s the first email based on behavior was sent and since then consumer data is relevant when designing any email marketing campaign, and companies must work more and more to get to know the user better and thus prevent their message from being trapped in spam filters.


Hyperconnected with the control in your hands: In the early 2000s Blackberry had managed to bring email to mobile phones, but its use was limited to the professional field. The launch of the iPhone in the 10s was a great technological change that had a great impact on social behavior. The arrival of smartphones changed the profile of the email user.

It is a hyperconnected user who has other communication channels at his disposal, such as social networks or instant messaging applications, and who knows that he is in control of the information he receives. Today most emails are read on mobile devices. There is a boom in smart watches and speakers that interact with email, especially among younger consumers. Perhaps this can be a prediction of how email will continue to evolve in the 1920s.

In this decade, both technology such as DMARC or legislation such as the GDPR have evolved to protect the user of email and companies work to have a relationship with this more aware person. And although many had predicted the disappearance of email, it remains a communication channel for companies, to carry out procedures with the public administration, or any type of organization. Even in the pandemic, it became a relevant communication channel for organizations to be in contact with users, and email marketing experts had to adapt their strategies overnight to respond to new needs. According to the DMA report «How to Win Trust and Loyalty », email is twice as popular as any other channel for receiving marketing messages, and is highly regarded for its trustworthiness and relevance.

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One Comment

  1. Ron, no bajes la capa DIV oculta, es probable que uno de tus competidores prohíba el sitio que informa de texto oculto. Tu mejor opción sería rediseñar usando suckerfish y eliminar el javascript por completo.

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