ReachMail prepared an amusing graphic of the history of email. Despite their attempt to show a triumphal growth of email, the twisted trail of email history is littered with battles against spam and misuse from the very beginning.
As noticed here in an earlier post, in 1971 Ray Tomlinson claims to have sent the first email message. Yes it was spam. Some random sequence across the keyboard — “qwertyuiop” or the like — as far as he can recall. (note that Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris have a legitimate and well documented earlier claim for inventing email with their “MAIL” program of 1965)
Further along, ReachMail commemorates the first unsolicited commercial email (1978) see Brad Templeton’s excellent history of spam for more on this event, the purchase of the spam-sending Hotmail by Microsoft (1997), the release of the accursed Outlook (1997) by no coincidence, the word “spam” entering the OED (1998) pretty late that, the infamous fake Bill Gates spam (1999), anti-spam laws that has almost no effect (2003 & 2004), MMS (for multimedia inclusion), SPF (insuring identity), and DKIM (for anti-phishing) none of these that were effective nor helpful (2004, 2005, 2007), Gmail (finally something that more or less works for spam control (2007), Obama campaign’s 13 million email address database — used to spam you for donations (2008), a report of bad passwords (2011), Gmail tabs for more complex mail management — as if that were a good thing (2012), and finally a notice of the Sony email hacking of 2014.
All in all, 15 of 25 events noted were not positive for email; most of those deal with spam. And I’d argue that noticing that the 90 million Americans (2012) trying to read their email on mobile devices are frustrated. Frustrated to the extent that only 64% of those 90 million check those devices daily. Email is synonymous with delay.
Email born bad and getting progressively worse.