The first email ever successfully sent, 1971

Also, since no one will ever see this, I pee in the shower! Yes I do! Can't stop me now, people!


Here we go again with another test of my “electronic mail” invention. Bet this will be the one that finally works–NOT! We’ve only tested this thing like five million times. It will seriously be a miracle if it ever works.

Hey, check this out:

….=( ‘.’)=

Well, since there’s absolutely no chance this “e-mail” will ever be sent by me or received by you, I might as well say something I’ve been keeping deep down inside. Betsy, baby, I’ve been trying so hard to forget about you but I just can’t. It was a mistake to break up with you. You’re so beautiful and I’m dying to have you back in my arms again. I think about you every moment and I fall apart when I see you with that idiot Jim. It’s seriously torture to work on this project with you. How can I think about the Internet when I know you’re sitting at the next enormous computer over? I cried into my pillow last night like a little baby. Then I masturbated onto the same pillow and then I cried into my own semen/tear mixture. Then I was too lazy to wash the pillow so I turned it over and slept on it.

Okay, well. That’s everything I feel. Luckily, you’ll never see this.



(Ray Tomlinson)


Of course, this email did go through, which led to any number of comical misunderstandings between Ray and Betsy, whose whirlwind romance was littered with enough mixups and shenanigans to easily fill what could be a very average romantic comedy. Little did both of them know, their little “onthelines” flirting would spark a revolution in communication. The “Electronically Monitored Anti-Imaged Letter,” later shortened to the more common “Electronic M.A.I.L,” and finally, “text-message,” was to change the way we created and mailed letters for years to come.

As can be seen above, the early days of email were littered with roadblocks and speed bumps. For a start, Betsy had received at least a few hundred of the first test emails, but they went to her junk-mail folder by mistake. Since spam emails had not yet been invented, it’s difficult for us to understand why exactly her inbox was configured like that. However, other emails from Mr. Tomlinson revealed that this was not the first strangely weird and depressing confession he had sent to her, so maybe she just didn’t have the heart to tell him she didn’t feel the same way. This one was gross enough for her to bring it up, though, and in reporting their remarkable invention, they lied and said the first email sent contained a list of the day’s baseball scores and an animated image of a dancing mouse.

To this day, however,  most email clients work most successfully when sending embarrassing truths about oneself to close acquaintances, friends, and relatives. Gmail has even instituted a feature that can take your most embarrassing childhood memories and send them to your boss and your boss’s spouse. It’s also capable of emailing embarrassing pictures to news organizations, but this feature is usually just enabled by celebrities and congressmen. Still, it represents a far cry from the days when embarrassing data had to be sent by regular mail, carrier pigeon, or God forbid fax.



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2 responses to “The first email ever successfully sent, 1971

  1. Pingback: Great-Uncle Henry Kantrowitz to on the Occasion of Their 100th Letter | The History of the Letter

  2. but what was the address?

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