For Spam's 39th Birthday, Here Are Some Things You Never Knew About Mass Email

It may not be something to celebrate, but it was a historic moment.

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By Rose Leadem

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Although this may not be something most people want to celebrate, it does mark an iconic moment in history: On May 3, 1978, the first ever spam email was sent.

Related: 3 Things I'm Doing to Avoid Sending Spam

Before the real internet was even born and people were using ARPAnet to connect, Digital Equipment Corp. marketer Gary Thuerk blasted a sales message to 400 of the 2,600 users on ARPAnet at the time. However annoying Thuerk's message was -- which was about a new series of computers -- he did receive some interested recipients, although mostly a negative response. Most importantly though, Thuerk's unsolicited mass email spearheaded one of the most loathed components of email today: spam. (Although he was dubbed the father of spam, he would insist on thinking of himself "as the father of e-marketing."

And as much as we don't like it, we can't ignore it -- it's something most of us experience on a daily basis. So feelings aside, check out these interesting spam facts:

1. Spam (email) was added to The New Oxford Dictionary of English in 1998. Before, only the meat product was recognized as the word's definition. The new definition is: "irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the internet to a large number of newsgroups or users."

Related: The 5 Mistakes That Will Land Your Email in the Spam Folder

2. It got the name "spam" after the 1970 Monty Python's Flying Circus Skit. The skit takes place in a restaurant in England and mocks the amount of spam (the meat product) in the restaurant that's been left after World War II. People are singing about spam, drowning out all conversation, and the meat product pops up all over the menu even though it is unwanted by restaurant-goers.

3. In January 2016, Bloomberg reported that almost 86 percent of the world's email traffic was spam mail.

Take a look at the first-ever spam email:

DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE

DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. THE

DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY OF COMPUTERS HAS EVOLVED FROM THE TENEX OPERATING SYSTEM

AND THE DECSYSTEM-10 COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE. BOTH THE DECSYSTEM-2060T

AND 2020T OFFER FULL ARPANET SUPPORT UNDER THE TOPS-20 OPERATING SYSTEM.

THE DECSYSTEM-2060 IS AN UPWARD EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT DECSYSTEM 2040

AND 2050 FAMILY. THE DECSYSTEM-2020 IS A NEW LOW END MEMBER OF THE

DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AND FULLY SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER

DECSYSTEM-20 MODELS.

WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY

AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS

MONTH. THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 – 2 PM

HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT)

LOS ANGELES, CA

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 – 2 PM

DUNFEY'S ROYAL COACH

SAN MATEO, CA

(4 MILES SOUTH OF S.F. AIRPORT AT BAYSHORE, RT 101 AND RT 92)

A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER

DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND,

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.

Rose Leadem
Rose Leadem is a freelance writer for Entrepreneur.com. 

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