Tomlinson, honored in first class of inductees, fundamentally changed global communication and secured the ‘@ ’ symbol’s place in history as a digital icon
Cambridge, Mass., April 23, 2012 — Ray Tomlinson, a principal engineer at Raytheon BBN Technologies who sent the first network email in 1971 and saved the “@” symbol from probable extinction, is being honored among the first inductees into the Internet Hall of Fame for his invention of email. It was Tomlinson who made the historic choice to separate the name of his message’s recipient from the name of the host computer using the “@” symbol, now one of the most universally recognized digital icons on the planet. His induction into the Hall of Fame was announced April 23 at the Internet Society’s Global INET 2012 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Raytheon BBN Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN).
“I am honored to be selected to the Internet Hall of Fame and have my name mentioned among such an elite and accomplished group,” said Tomlinson. “The invention of email came out of a personal desire for a more convenient and functional way to communicate. Basically, I was looking for a method that did not require the person to be there when the message was sent and enabled the receiver to read and answer communications at their convenience. I still use email every day. In fact, it is my preferred form of communication.”
In 1971, Tomlinson developed ARPANET’s first application for network email by combining the SNDMSG and CPYNET programs, allowing messages to be sent to users on other computers. He chose the “@” sign to separate local from global emails in the mailing address. Person-to-person network email was born and “user@host” became the standard for email addresses -- and remains so to this day.
Tomlinson’s email program revolutionized communications, fundamentally changing the way people and organizations interact and altering the cadence of every day life. Businesses, from global companies to tiny shops, transformed the way they communicated. People changed their ways of doing everything from shopping to banking to staying in touch with friends and family -- whether across town or on the other side of the world. Today, an estimated 1.9 billion people worldwide use email to communicate. They are sending 300 billion emails a day, eliminating traditional barriers of time and space.
This is the most recent of Tomlinson’s many prestigious honors. In 2000, Tomlinson received the George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award from the American Computer Museum. In 2001, he was honored with a Webby Award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences and was inducted into the Rensselaer Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2002, Discover Magazine awarded him its Innovation Award. In 2004, he earned the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Internet Award. In 2009, he was named the Prince of Asturias Award Laureate for Technical and Scientific Research. In 2011, he was honored with the Eduard Rhein Kulturpreis Cultural Award. Ray Tomlinson is ranked No. 4 on the list of the top 150 MIT-related “ideas, inventions and innovators,” compiled by The Boston Globe.
About The Internet Society and Its Internet Hall of Fame
The Internet Society is the world’s trusted independent source of Internet leadership. The organization promotes open dialogue on Internet policy, technology, and future development among users, companies, governments, and other organizations. Working with its members and Chapters around the world, the Internet Society enables the continued evolution and growth of the Internet for everyone.
The Internet Society established the Internet Hall of Fame this year to mark its 20th birthday and to acknowledge the Internet’s profound impact. An Advisory Board of computer scientists, software engineers, Internet developers, historians, executives, venture capitalists, authors, researchers, futurists, academics, analysts, and journalists selected Internet Hall of Fame honorees from an open nomination process.
Raytheon Company, with 2011 sales of $25 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 90 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 71,000 people worldwide. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter at @raytheon.