Sunday, April 18News For London

Twitter users pay tribute to the email inventor who has died aged 74

Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email, has died aged 74. His death has brought a widespread reaction across Twitter.

Credit: aileen wang (Flickr)
Tomlinson was granted a place on the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. Credit: aileen wang (Flickr)

Ray Tomlinson died on Saturday morning, his spokesman Mike Doble told the media, but Doble did not know about it until Sunday and still did not have a confirmed cause of death. “A true technology pioneer, Ray was the man who brought us email in the early days of networked computers,” Doble said in his statement quoted by The Guardian.

In 1971, Tomlinson invented a programme for ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet that allowed users to send messages to other computers. Before that, mail could be sent only to people who shared the same computer. It was the first email system in the world. This internet pioneer was also the first to put now iconic “@” sign in the addresses.

Now email is commonly used worldwide. According to The Radicati Group, an American technology market research firm, the number of emails sent and received per day reached over 205 billion last year. This number is expected grow to over 246 billion by the end of 2019.

People feel grateful to Tomlinson and expressed their respect and sorrow on social media. The hashtag #Ray Tomlinson was trending on Twitter with over 77,000 tweets by 11 am on Monday, March 7.


Some companies also used Twitter to pay tribute to the internet cult figure.

The inventor of email was born in Amsterdam in New York State. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1963. After RPI, he went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to continue his education in electrical engineering. Tomlinson developed an analog-digital hybrid speech synthesizer at MIT as a member of the Speech Communication Group. From 1967 he worked at technology company Bolt, Beranek and Newman, where he helped to develop ARPANET and invented the email.

Sub-edited by Sara Macham