The global IT community is mourning the demise of one of its champions – Ray Tomlinson – the engineer credited with being the developer of email as we know it today and inserting the ‘@’ symbol within email addresses.
Tomlinson – who was inducted into the Internet Society’s ‘Internet Hall of Fame’ alongside other internet pioneers like Vint Cerf, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and Van Jacobson – passed away on Saturday March 5, 2016 aged 74.
Below is Tomlinson’s inductee bio as published in the ‘Internet Hall of Fame’:
Raymond Tomlinson is widely known for inventing network electronic mail, choosing the “@” sign in emails to connect the username with the destination address. His email software (SNDMSG) was widely distributed for years, and proved to be an exceptionally innovative solution.
Tomlinson was also lead in developing the required services in network electronic mail, including defining a place to put inbound email on the user’s machine, developing a mail transport agent to move email between machines, creating a protocol for moving email between machines, setting a standard format for email messages, and designing a tool for creating and reading email.
In addition to his significant contributions to network email, he played a leading role in developing the first email standards. In 1972, Tomlinson was one of the participants in a meeting to enhance FTP to support email, which was used until 1982 when it was replaced by SMTP.
In addition, Tomlinson was a co-author of RFC-561 (September 1973), the first standard for Internet email message formats. RFC 561 defined several of the email fields we still use today (e.g. From, Subject and Date).