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The Father of Spam

Half of all e-mail sent today is spam. What does the man who started it all think of it now?

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This story appears in the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every day--every hour--it comes, and just try to stop it. Spamming costs businesses $8 billion to $10 billion per year in lost productivity, as entrepreneurs and employees constantly rid their e-mail boxes of the unwanted promises: Get out of debt; get 12 CDs for the price of one; enhance your sexual prowess. And Gary Thuerk is to blame for it all. As a young, ambitious computer salesperson, he sent the first spam to 600 people on an early version of the Internet in 1978. Today, Thuerk is married with three grown kids, works as a sales representative at Hewlett-Packard, and actually appears to be a nice guy. After explaining why he did what he did, he even gave us his e-mail address. "But don't print it," he begs.

What do you personally think of spam? Is it good or bad?

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