Skip to comments.Spam turning 30 this month; no gifts, please
Posted on 05/03/2008 11:47:23 AM PDT by buccaneer81
Spam turning 30 this month; no gifts, please
Thu May 1, 2008 12:33PM EDT
See Comments (131) Buzz up!on Yahoo!
The date: May 3, 1978. The culprit: Gary Thuerk, a marketer for the old Digital Equipment Corporation. His crime: Sending a sales e-mail to 393 users on Arpanet (then a U.S. government computer network and the predecessor of today's Internet). Little did Thuerk know that he'd just become the world's first spammer.
That first piece of junk e-mail (which wasn't called "spam" until about 15 years later) has been memorialized over at Brad Templeton's Web site (Templeton is a Net pioneer, the creator of the legendary rec.humor.funny Usenet group, and chairman of the Eletronic Frontier Foundation), along with a thread of outraged replies.
So, without further ado, here you gothe world's first spam (presented in its original all-caps format):
Mail-from: DEC-MARLBORO rcvd at 3-May-78 0955-PDT Date: 1 May 1978 1233-EDT From: THUERK at DEC-MARLBORO Subject: ADRIAN@SRI-KL
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.
Thuerk's message was first greeted by a stern reprimand from one Major Raymond Czahor, chief administrator of Arpanet, followed by a long discussion thread as Arpanet usersmany of whom were wary of censorship on their messaging networkmulled the impact of this first piece of junk e-mail:
"I don't see any place for advertising on the ARPAnet," user Mark Crispin wrote at the time. "Certainly not the bulk advertising of that DEC message. From the address list, it seems clear to me that the people it was sent to were the Californians listed in the last ARPAnet directory. This was a clear and flagrant abuse of the directory! I am not sure as to how far this should be carried though."
For the record, the pioneering spammer told the Wall Street Journal that his ground-breaking e-mail worked, drawing scores of leads and about $12 million in tech sales. Thuerk says he never spammed again, and he reportedly does promos for spam-fighting companies, but he's not spending any time blaming himself for the current spam epidemic. "If the airline loses your luggage do you blame the Wright brothers?" he told the Journal. I'm not sure I get the logic there, but...whatever.
Check out New Scientist Tech for an exhaustive story summarizing the history of spam and the top techniques used by spammers, including "botnets," "zombie" computers, and "word salad"the odd literary excerpts that spammers use to fool junk mail filters.
You can also click here for our latest news and tips on beating back the flood of spam.
In the meantime...happy birthday, spam. You're looking younger every day. Sorry in advance for skipping the party.
Related: Reaction to the DEC Spam of 1978 [Brad Templeton's blog] Happy spamiversary! Spam reaches 30 [New Scientist Tech]
The first e-mail I ever sent was in 1985. There were websites, text based, and you tabbed from field to field for your queries. Sent it from London to Irvine, CA.
I know... any excuse to post M.P.
I hate spam. It is foul tasting.
No lips which have touched spam will touch mine.
The same goes with tripe.
Sorry, wrong SPAM however, both are about the same age.
Immigration attorneys and spammers. A perfecta for defining a useless human being.
That would be very tasty dish if it didnt have that tasteless Japanese style rice, spam, and that nasty seaweed.
Add "Family Law Professionals" (attorneys, judges, social workers) and you've hit the trifecta.
Enlargement and all that.
As you imply, that's still what most spam is about.
It would have been like killing Hitler on April 20, 1889. No one would have understood what evil you were stopping.
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