Its survivors include SMS Text Messaging, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry messaging, iPhone's Facetime and dozens of collaboration applications.
Born in research labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961, e-mail rose to prominence in the late 1980s through the late 1990s with services including CompuServe, AOL (nee America Online), as well as client/server computing. It reached adolescence with the growth of Microsoft Exchange and Outlook and Lotus Notes.
Often described during those years as a "killer app," e-mail solved business and communication problems encountered by far-flung national and international organizations. It eventually expanded into areas including contact management and calendaring, becoming a staple of communication.
While e-mail technically remained a strong, must-have piece of software, problems began to emerge by the late 1990s with the advent of the "Nigerian Prince" scams and emergence of "reply all" abuse. E-mail often began to find itself as a weapon of choice by office weasels everywhere, who sought to build audit trails to prove that co-workers did, in fact, read the memo at 4:57 p.m. on a Friday.
E-mail's future, however, began to come into serious question with the issue of spam. Then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, in 2003, told the U.S. Senate in testimony:
"The torrent of unwanted, unsolicited, often offensive and sometimes fraudulent e-mail is eroding trust in technology, costing business billions of dollars a year, and decreasing our collective ability to realize technology's full potential."
After the dot-com meltdown, U.S. government prosecutors found that they had a treasure trove of potential evidence against companies contained in their e-mail archives--and the federal government enacted the Sarbanes-Oxley law to force public companies to protect and save e-mail. Microsoft, for example, was almost required to break itself into smaller companies because of evidence antitrust investigators found, ironically enough, through e-mail exchanges by Bill Gates and Microsoft executives.
Elsewhere, businesses found their e-mail systems hacked and customer and corporate data either stolen, destroyed or lost, costing untold millions of dollars. Other businesses found themselves spending untold billions of dollars on e-mail-specific security.
Late last month, Facebook announced it would integrate various aspects of messaging--including e-mail--into its social networking service to provide enhanced communication. E-mail could never recover.
A memorial service for e-mail will be held, continuously, on Twitter at the hashtag, #email.
- Three Big Questions On Apple’s Mountain Lion
- Do We Even Need A Google Drive?
- How Windows 8 Beta Could Underwhelm Us
- Three New Features For Business We Want In iPad 3
- How Meg Whitman Can Save WebOS
- 'Extra-PC Era' Describes It Better
- LibreOffice’s Bold Course for the Tablet
- Leaving Your iPhone In The Back Of A Cab
- Analysis: Ubuntu's 'Open for Business' Sign To Developers
- Firefox Memory Leaks Once Again Causing Frustrations
- Microsoft’s Windows 8 To Do List Short, But Serious
- The Door Cracks Open for the BlackBerry PlayBook
- Today’s Daily App: Maven Web Browser for iPad
- Will Ubuntu Again Benefit From Industry Turmoil?
- Samsung Takes Swipe At Google With Its Windows 7 Slate
- Intel Inside Android, via McAfee Security
- Why Michael Dell Is Right About PCs, And HP Could Be Wrong
- Why 2011 Is The Year Of Open Source
- What If They Had A Tablet Price War And Nobody Came?
- Why Google Needs to Get a Grip on Security