Test Your Email Knowledge

Facts about email that you might not have known.

Evgeny Fedosov

Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder

May 06, 2021

Test Your Email Knowledge

Email has long been a part of our lives, and we now can't imagine life without it. For some, this is an anachronism. For others, it is an essential tool of everyday life. Anyway, we all know what it is, and we all use this little miracle. The history of the development of this technology is full of interesting facts. In this article, I will remind you of several interesting moments of the emergence and development of email.


The creator and sender of the first email is considered to be an American Ray Tomlinson. It was he who created the first email program in the ARPANET system, the forerunner of the Internet, in 1971. This was the first system that was able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to ARPANET. Previously, mail could only be sent to those who used the same computer.

Email Creator Ray Tomlinson Email Creator Ray Tomlinson

In the beginning, email was sent through a FTP-like (File Transport Protocol) structure, so an email address of the time could look like this:


Each “!” delimits a computer, and the user acts like a human router, guiding the message.

The “at” (@) sign was used by Ray Tomlinson to distinguish emails from users on other computers from the ones composed by people on the same computer as himself. This symbol was chosen because it wasn’t commonly used anymore but still was a standard symbol on the keyboard. So, email addresses began to look something like this:


The .com part would not be added until much later.


The @ symbol is known by various names, such as:

  • in English, “at sign,” ”at the rate,” “at symbol,” “at mark,” “commercial at,” “cyclops,” “ampersat,” and “asperand”
  • its French name is “arobase” or sometimes “arrobe” or “arobe”
  • in Dutch it is called the “(little) monkey-tail”
  • in German, the “at symbol” or “spider monkey”
  • in Chinese, it is known as the “little mouse”
  • in Finnish, it is the “cat’s tail”

For the 160th anniversary of the first public Morse telegraph transmission on May 24, 2004, a unique Morse code for the ‘@’ symbol was introduced: · - - · - · (dot-dash-dash-dot-dash-dot). This was the first official addition to the Morse set of characters since World War I.

Morse Email Morse Email

The first email from space was received on August 28, 1991, from the space Shuttle Atlantis. It was sent from a portable Mac computer. The first senders were astronauts Shannon Lucid and James C. Adamson. Here is its exact content:

First Email from Space First Email from Space

The first free mail service appeared in 1996. It was Hotmail.com, but now we know it more as Outlook.com, after the company joined Microsoft.

Hotmail.com became Outlook.com Hotmail.com became Outlook.com

In the late 90s, Hotmail and Yahoo gave only 4 MB for each email account. Can you imagine that? Only 4 MB! So, now you can imagine how excited users were in 2004 when, at the launch of Gmail, Google promised 1GB of disk space for its users.

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Fun Facts

This is the end of the informative and educational part of this article. Now it's time for some fun! I have collected some entertaining facts about email for you.

In Season 14 of The Simpsons, Homer reveals his funny email address: chunkylover53@aol.com. This was set-up by Matt Selman, one of The Simpsons’ writers, who actually tried to answer all incoming messages as Homer. Even though this was initially a fun undertaking, it unfortunately became impossible to keep up with since he was soon flooded by hundreds and hundreds of emails per day.

Homer Simpson’s Email Homer Simpson’s Email

Email was anchored in the public consciousness thanks to the "you got mail" voice that accompanied new messages in the AOL domain. It was also this sound that became the cornerstone of the 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

You’ve Got Mail (Warner Bros.) You’ve Got Mail (Warner Bros.)

During Bill Clinton’s entire presidency (1993–2001), he only sent two emails. One was to John Glenn when he was aboard the space shuttle, and the other was a test of the email system.

Unlike his fellow Democrat, Barack Obama actively used email newsletters, which asked for donations of as little as $3 and came with the opportunity to win a lunch with the future president. These email newsletters helped raise $690 million for his presidential campaign.

How about the Pope? Does he use email? Surprisingly… yes. Pope John Paul II was the first Pope ever to use email, and his email address was john_paul_ii@vatican.va. He even once sent an email apology to the peoples of Oceania.

Pope John Paul II’s Email Pope John Paul II’s Email

Kevin McKenzie sent the first emoticon in an email on April 12, 1979. His smiley face was the -) symbol and meant 'tongue in cheek.' McKenzie contacted the Message Services Group with a proposal to add more fun to the dry electronic language of communication 😀.

I hope this article brought a little bit of positivity to your day! And I’m not sure if you noticed, but I did not mention the first system for testing email templates. But let’s just say it appeared in 2004 in the United States. However, I will say this. After 17 years, a lot has changed, and testing technologies have taken a step forward. And, most importantly, email preview systems are still one of the most important tools in the work of email marketers and designers.