Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email and the man who picked the @ symbol for addresses, has died aged 74.
“A true technology pioneer, Ray was the man who brought us email in the early days of networked computers,” Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble said in a statement confirming his death.
Doble said Tomlinson died on Saturday morning but he did not know if he was at home and did not have a confirmed cause of death. Tomlinson worked in the company’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The tech world reacted with sadness over the passing of Tomlinson, who became a cult figure for his invention in 1971 of a program for ARPANET, the Internet’s predecessor, that allowed people to send person-to-person messages to other computer users on other servers.
Originally from Amsterdam, New York, Tomlinson went to school at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT in the 1960s, and was working at research and development company Bolt Beranek and Newman – now Raytheon BBN Technologies – when he made his email breakthrough.
The program changed the way people communicate both in business and in personal life, revolutionising how “millions of people shop, bank, and keep in touch with friends and family, whether they are across town or across oceans”, reads his biography on the Internet Hall of Fame website.
According to a 1998 profile in Forbes magazine, Tomlinson showed a colleague his invention and then, famously, said: “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.”
At the time, few people had personal computers. The popularity of personal email wouldn’t take off until years later but has become an integral part of modern life.
Tomlinson chose the @ symbol to connect the username with the destination address and it has become part of the international language of communication.
Around the time email started to become a household word, Tomlinson began receiving worldwide recognition for his achievement.
In 2000, he received the George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award from the American Computer Museum. From there followed honors that included a Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Science, and an Innovation award from Discover magazine, and the Eduard-Rhein Cultural Award, according to his biography.
He lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts where he raised miniature sheep. Attempts to contact his family were unsuccessful.
While more general email protocols were later developed and adopted, Tomlinson’s contributions were never forgotten.
“He was pretty philosophical about it all,” Kuzman said. “And was surprisingly not addicted to email.”(The Guardian)
ravi Monday, 7 March 2016 10:32
R I P
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Leo Monday, 7 March 2016 10:41
These are the real greats. via DM Android App
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ANTON Monday, 7 March 2016 11:05
RIP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR FOR INVENTING THIS WONDERFUL SYSTEM, .... JESUS LOVES DEVELOPING E-MAIL SYSTEM IN THE HEAVEN TOO.
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Poorna Monday, 7 March 2016 11:13
RIP sir atleast you are no Mark Suckleburg.
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