Ray Tomlinson Dies at the Age of 74

Ray Tomlinson Dies at the Age of 74


TomlinsonRay Tomlinson dies at the age of 74. The Economic Times reports that on March 6, 2016, that the inventor of modern day email passed away. According to the report, details surrounding his death are not yet available.

Prior to 1971 email existed in a narrow scope. Existing framework allowed only for limited communication in the form of electronic messaging. Tomlinson’s invention became the first person to person email, and for the first time, there was an ability to send a message to specific individuals. The Economic Times explains that the digital highway was far from what exists today. The first email traveled by means of the ARPANET system. Considered the forefather of the internet, Tomlinson expanded his inventive spirit by collaborating to modernize ARPANET as well as other technologies.

Originally from Amsterdam New York, Tomlinson attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institue as well as MIT. After graduation, his work focused on research and development with Raytheon BBN Technologies. It was there where modern day email came into existence. The Age reports that the birth of email was something of an accident. Frustrated with the limitation of ARPANET, the inventor sought to explore ways by which to maximize its capabilities. Traveling between computers positioned side by side, the first email was sent. Once convinced that his invention functioned properly, an email was sent to everyone in the office as the first intra-office communication.

Onmanorama reports that upon news of Ray Tomlinson’s death at the age of 74, several friends and co-workers have expressed condolences. Those who were quoted remember him as a humble and kind man. Having commuted to work with him for 15 years, Harry Forsdick explained that Tomlinson was admired by all who work alongside him. Seen as a nerdy guy from MIT, acceptance of praise was something he was able to come to grips with later in his career. Forsdick ended his comment indicating that where email is seen as his greatest accomplishment. The projects and ideas that formed over the course of a long career were incredibly impactful.

The Economic Times reports that Tomlinson is was initially unsure of his creation. While allowing colleges to see his invention, his central concern was that it be kept quiet because he was not supposed to be working on it. The Age explains that with email, Tomlinson is credited with choosing the “@” symbol in order to connect a user name with an email destination. Interestingly, the new significance of the @ symbol brought consciousness to the point where the internet was recognized as a geographic location. They go on to say that being thought of as a place allowed society to treat the internet like any other place one would visit, interact with, and even surf through.

Ray Tomlinson dies at the age of 74 having dramatically shaped the way society communicates with one another. How people shop, engage in business, and stay in contact with one another have been forever changed as a result of his creativity. Today millions of email-enabled devices are used on a regular basis. Estimates put the users of email at over a billion and a half from all over the world.

Later in his career, Tomlinson received several awards and honors that called attention to his impactful career. The George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award, the Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Science are two of the many awards presented to him. Inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012, he shaped the way we speak and live our lives online. Gmail via Twitter, in a fitting way, put it best. The tweet simply read, “thanks to Ray Tomlinson for inventing email.”

By Garrett Sayers


The Age: Email Pioneer Ray Tomlinson Dead at 74
Onmanorama: Ray Tomlinson, Godfather of Email, Dies at 74
The Economic Times: The Email Man Ray Tomlinson Passes Away at 74
Image Courtesy of Steve Snodgrass’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


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