Tales of Ancient E-Mail

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Tue Nov 7 13:11:29 CST 2006


On 2 Nov 2006 at 10:02, Tom Watson wrote:

> I don't know about what was used on the pdp-6/10 (I have a bit of contact, but
> not much), but I don't remember any mail commands for IBM360's or the GE
> machines.

That's the problem with making a claim to be the "first".  Many 
concepts are evolutionary instead of revolutionary.  With email, one 
has to ask "what's the first time someone cobbled together a JCL 
script or program to see if someone had left a message in a pre-
agreed upon place?" and  "When is the first time that someone did 
this on two connected systems?"

I suppose Western Union might have originated the first email system 
using teletypes, no?  It's a networked system and messages are stored 
in hardcopy form with routing information, so the receiving end can 
run unattended.  I submit that the presence or absence of a 
"computer" in the middle of all of this is a minor quibble.

Who knows, perhaps there was a similar setup in the days of 
telegraphy?  Didn't Edison work on a printing telegraph?

Cheers,
Chuck




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