30 Years Ago: How Email Rose to Become the No. 1 Killer App - Page 3

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The museum is housed in a historic building of sorts; it used to serve as the executive business center for Silicon Graphics Inc., which in the 1980s and 1990s was one of the most powerful IT companies in the world.

A side note: SGI was so influential, in fact, that when newly elected President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore visited Silicon Valley soon after their inauguration in February 1993, the first media conference they held was at—you guessed it—SGI.

The 2007 CHM event was a true reunion of Internet and email superstars. On hand were about 50 of the original pioneers of the Internet, including seven of the eight project leaders. The event was at capacity—about 400 people.

The project leaders on hand were: Dr. Vint Cerf, then of DARPA and now an evangelist for Google; Don Nielson, retired from SRI International; Bob Kahn, retired from DARPA; Jim Garrett, retired from Collins Radio; Irwin Jacobs, then of Linkabit, now of Qualcomm; Pal Spilling of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment; and the lone woman on the team, Ginny Strazisar Travers, formerly of BBN.

Each had major input into enabling three computer networks to send data freely to and from each other for the first time. This is where email became the email we use today.

The transcendent event occurred on Nov. 22, 1977, when email data flowed seamlessly from a refurbished bread truck (which had been rebuilt into a mobile data relay station) on the street in the foothills to a gateway at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, then to a host at the University of Southern California (400 miles away) via London—across three types of networks: packet radio, satellite and the military's ARPANET.

"We figured the data traveled a total of 8,800 miles as it bounced around two continents," Cerf said.

It seemed a small event at the time, the Net pioneers recalled. No way could they know that this one seemingly insignificant test would lead to the Internet we all know and can't live without now.

Email Started the Internet Rolling

And it was a simple email that started the whole thing rolling.

Now email is everywhere. Most major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and many more) use email as either a main or secondary feature.

A final factoid regarding email of which users ought to be aware: In 2011, a study found that the worst email passwords are "password" and "123456." Others lame passwords worthy of note include "QWERTY," "monkey" and "letmein." The password "123456" was also found to be the most common password during a 2012 email hack.

So, if you see any of your own passwords in the preceding paragraph, you may want to think about changing it soon.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...