Father of Email Claims His Social Network is the Biggest

AUSTIN, TX – Ray Tomlinson, the man responsible for putting the “@” in our email addresses has apparently gone on the warpath against MySpace, Facebook and other social networks who claim they have the largest memberships.

“Zuckerberg Schmuckerberg!” Tomlinson was overheard saying at a social gathering. “My social network has been around since the 70s. We support photos, videos — everything Facebook does.”

The social network to which that Tomlinson refers is the world-wide email system, a system that has been in use since 1971 when Tomlinson inserted the “@” character to “separate the user from their machine,” according to Wikipedia. The symbol, known as an “at” sign, “ampersand,” was reportedly taken from a rune used by secretive Freemason accountants signaling other Freemason brothers to “ask for a discount.” This has not been confirmed.

Ray Tomlinson

Ray Tomlinson

The global email system has been embraced by Viagra retailers, relatives of Nigerian government officials, and that guy who thinks any joke is funny enough to share.

But, the biggest social network on the planet has been overlooked by thousands of legitimate businesses.

Tomlinson has been largely out of the spotlight since a major cable company attempted to trademark the “@” in 1996, proposing that all email addresses take the form “name@domain.com”. Tomlinson successfully argued the disk space that servers would need to store the additional characters “TM” should be saved to fix the Y2K problem.

It is not known if Tomlinson is seeking some form of compensation for his work, or if he simply had too many Appletinis. For instance, when it was pointed out that email doesn’t offer social applications like those supported by the OpenSocial standard, he is reported to have said, “what do you think viruses are!”

Tomlinson was not asked to comment on this story.

If you’re considering investing in a social marketing campaign, and you haven’t nailed your email strategy, you may be investing in the wrong place. Don’t miss our next post on the myths that keep businesses from using email to its full potential.

Photo copyright BBN Technologies.

Brian Massey
3 replies
  1. Taj Moore says:

    The ampersand is most decidedly NOT the same as the “@.” The ampersand is represented by “&” and strictly stands for “and” in modern parlance. Its symbol is a stylized version of the latin word “et.”
    The @ symbol, on the other hand, goes by many names including “at” in America. Other countries refer to it as strudel, spider monkey, snail, pig’s tail, etc. etc.

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