NEW YORK- The American scientist, Ray Tomlinson who revolutionized the way world communicates i.e. the inventor of email has died at the age of 74.
Not only he invented email, but also picked the: @ symbol for addresses. “A true technology pioneer, Ray was the man who brought us email in the early days of networked computers,” Raytheon spokesman Mike Doble said in a statement confirming his death.
Doble said Tomlinson died on Saturday morning but he did not know if he was at home and did not have a confirmed cause of death. Tomlinson worked in the company’s office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The tech world reacted with sadness over the passing of Tomlinson, who became a cult figure for his invention in 1971 of a program for ARPANET, the Internet’s predecessor that allowed people to send person-to-person messages to other computer users on other servers.
Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map,” read a Tweet from Gmail’s official Twitter account.
Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf called his death “very sad news.”
“His work changed the way the world communicates and yet, for all his accomplishments, he remained humble, kind and generous with his time and talents,” Doble said.
Originally from Amsterdam, New York, Tomlinson went to school at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT in the 1960s, and was working at research and development company Bolt Beranek and Newman – now Raytheon BBN Technologies – when he made his email breakthrough.
According to a 1998 profile in Forbes magazine, Tomlinson showed a colleague his invention and then, famously, said: “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.”
At the time, few people had personal computers. The popularity of personal email wouldn’t take off until years later but has become an integral part of modern life.
“It wasn’t an assignment at all, he was just fooling around; he was looking for something to do with ARPANET,” Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman said of his creation of network email.
Tomlinson once said in a company interview that he created email “mostly because it seemed like a neat idea”. The first email was sent between two machines that were side-by-side, according to that interview.
He said the test messages were “entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them”. But when he was satisfied that the program seemed to work, he announced it via his own invention by sending a message to co-workers explaining how it could be used.
Tomlinson chose the @ symbol to connect the username with the destination address and it has become part of the international language of communication.