All about E-Mail: Origin and curiosities of e-mail

Although email is 40 years old, its use did not become popular until Internet use spread in the early 2000s. Today, most of us manage several email accounts on a daily basis: personal, professional...etc

Not only is it an instant communication method that allows us to send texts and documents anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds, but its use is free. We can send any text accompanied by one or more images, videos, or songs and the recipient will receive it in a matter of seconds or minutes depending on the connection speed.

What is email?

E-mail is one of the main network services along with DNS (Domain Name System) to surf the Internet and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to transfer files between two computers. The main function of email is to allow users to send and receive messages.

The most important part when you sign up for an email service is the chosen address. This is separated into two parts by the @. To the left of the sign, the chosen user is indicated, which is personal and non-transferable, and to the right the domain of the server or service provider, which is usually common to all users of the platform.


In addition to the obvious ones: having a device with an internet connection and having registered with a user in any of the email provider companies to be able to send a message you have to fill in a minimum of fields. The sender field appears automatically filled in because we will have previously identified ourselves, the recipient field must contain at least one address. The Subject field, on the other hand, can be left empty.

Connection between users

The connection between the sender and recipient computers is not direct, so it is not necessary for both to be simultaneously connected to the network. Email service providers have specific servers to host the content of the messages. The recipient will receive the pending messages when they turn on the device and run the corresponding application or visit their usual webmail service from the browser.


In an email message, in addition to the text, we can attach files of any kind. Submitting files is subject to requirements that vary from provider to provider. Most of these apply a size limitation for all files included in a message, in the case of Gmail (Google Mail) this limit is 25MB, if you exceed this limit the files will be sent as Google Drive links for you directly download the recipient.

Client or webmail

Access to email can be done in two ways. It is possible to use a specific application, an email client, which allows us to carry out all the actions of the service. The positive part is that it allows you all kinds of configurations and uses, with the disadvantage that it is usually cumbersome to configure the email account from the beginning. On the other hand, you can use the webmail service, which is email on a web page. For them, you only have to enter the user or the address with which you have registered and the password, you do not need to configure anything else.

History and beginnings

The email was born before the internet. If we understand by internet the DNS service, which refers purely to web browsing. The first draft email is found in the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology when they bought an IBM computer in 1962. This computer was used for various connecting computers remotely and can send and receive messages between them. In 1965, even, is created the Mail application makes sending messages more comfortable.

It was not until 1971 that the first email was officially considered to be sent. Ray Tomlinson developed the experimental CYPNET protocol to carry out the first sending of an email through the Arpanet network. This network was the structure that continued to maintain the email service until 1990 when the current TCP / IP was established.

Use of the at sign

From the beginning, Ray himself used the @ to separate the username and domain from the email address. His choice was practically the result of chance.


  • 1962: First remote message, an IBM 7090 was used.

  • 1965: Creation of the Mail application for internal use at MIT.

  • 1971: First email ever sent by Ray Tomlinson.

  • 1977: Email becomes a standardized network service using the Arpanet network in the United States.

  • 1990: Establishment of the TCP / IP protocol as a world standard.


  • Phase 1: You write an email and click on Send. Your mail client or webmail service contacts your mail server using SMTP protocol and gives the order to send the message.

  • Phase 2: Your mail server, using the DNS protocol, contacts the recipient's server.

  • Phase 3: The recipient's server confirms that it is the one that manages the address indicated as the recipient.

  • Phase 4: The SMTP server of the recipient email has already saved the message.

  • Phase 5: When the recipient looks at their email they will receive all the messages.

Important mail services

  • Yahoo! Mail: Yahoo! began operating in 1997 with the founding of the brand, quickly becoming one of the market leaders for email providers. It is estimated that it has more than 225 million active users each month.

  • Hotmail / Outlook: It's Microsoft's email service. It began operating as in 1996 being one of the most used email services in the world along with the predecessor of Yahoo! Mail (Four11´s RocketMail). In 2012 they changed the business name and corporate image to There are currently more than 400 million active users per month.

  • Gmail: Interestingly, Google Mail spent 5 years in beta before coming up with the final version in 2009. The account for individuals is free, like the others. The corporate version, without advertising, is paid. Some reports show an outrageous 3.7 billion active users.

Structures and characteristics of an email


It is the part where we must add all the information related to the email that we want to send except for the message itself.

  • The sender is listed automatically, there can only be one.

  • To: we can add all the recipients we want to be separated by a ",".

  • Subject: It is the "headline" of the email, which will appear in a more visible way in our inbox, it can be left blank.

  • Date and time current or at which it was sent (for messages received).

CC and Bcc

The CC and Bcc fields are usually located under To: You can also add as many recipient addresses as you want. The CC (Carbon Copy) field includes the recipients that, without being the main recipients, you want to receive your message. The BCC (Hidden Carbon Copy) field is the same as the previous one, except that the list of recipients does not appear for anyone to see.


This section includes the bulk of the message. Given the immediacy and gratuitousness of the service, the body of the message can be from a couple of words to the equivalent of a whole book, there is no limit to the text. The only limitation is the size per full message that each provider includes.


It is a very important section for corporate addresses. Most email providers and clients have an exclusive section to design a signature with a personalized style.

Reply and Forward

When we receive an email we have the possibility to reply by pressing the Reply button, to send a reply to the sender (s), or by clicking Reply to all, this would include all the recipients included in the CC field. The Forwarding option allows you to open a new email sending benefit with the original message included in the body of the new one.

Email protocols

The use of email is common throughout the world. The result of this is the development of several standard communication protocols.

  • POP3: Acronym for Post Office Protocol, in its third generation. Although it is currently less and less used, it is especially suitable for devices with slow internet connections and usually only to receive messages and not to send them. The peculiarity is that when you receive a message through POP3, it is deleted from the server, having only one copy on the device.

  • IMAP: The Internet Message Access Protocol is used to connect to the email server. You have some advantages over POP3 such as the organization by folders from the server itself, you can view messages without having to download or view them from different devices simultaneously.

  • SMTP: From the acronym Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, it is a communication system between email servers. As it has certain limitations regarding the reception of messages, it is usually combined with POP3 or IMAP.


The recipient does not exist

The most common is that we enter the wrong recipient's address. It can also happen that the account has been canceled or deactivated. In these cases, we will receive a response email mentioning the error.

Excessive size

This problem is usually easier to detect since we simply cannot send the message. When we try to send it we will get an error message due to size exceeded. The problem concerns the attachments and their weight, not the length of the text of your message. For this, we must send the attached files in several messages (it is very useful to indicate the sequence with a number in the Subject) or use links from applications such as Google Drive.

Recipient's mailbox full

We may occasionally receive an error message that the recipient's server is full and cannot receive any more messages. The only possible solution is to contact the recipient and ask for another address to write to.


  • That first email sent by Ray Tomlinson was addressed to a computer that was in the same room as him.

  • The email design was not commissioned.

  • Until the appearance of email, the @ was nothing more than a unit of mass.

  • The term spam was first coined by Monty Python inspired by a type of corned beef that is combined with all kinds of foods.

  • In 1982 the term email was used for the first time. That same year the first emoticon was sent.

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