3 May: Sending Out Spam

The first ‘spam’ email, sent to ARPANET users on behalf of the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), landed in Inboxes on 3rd May, 1978.

Marketer Gary Thuerk was responsible for the idea – but his execution was flawed, as he inadvertently filled the body of his message with email addresses, overflowing from the To and CC fields. Recipients weren’t amused. Some grumbled, others chuckled, but all felt the intrusion… 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether this e-marketing stumble truly qualifies as ‘spam’ in the modern sense; trace the origins of the Monty Python-derived term for unsolicited email; and marvel at the available storage space in the early days of the internet…

 

Further Reading:

• ‘Happy spamiversary! Spam reaches 30’ (New Scientist, 2008): https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13777-happy-spamiversary-spam-reaches-30/

• ‘America is Uncle Spam’ (Financial Times, 2018): ​​https://www.ft.com/content/59014392-4947-11e8-8c77-ff51caedcde6

• ‘Database: How to send an ‘E mail’’ (Thames TV, 1984):