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The invention of email has transformed our working and personal lives in profound ways. Here are eight fascinating facts about email that you can now add to your bag of trivia to impress your friends with over dinner. Have a read (and a laugh), and feel free to share in the comment section other trivia you know about email.
1. Nobody knows exactly what was in the first email
When American programmer and the inventor of email Ray Tomlinson sent the first email (to himself) in 1971, he didn’t type any important message because it was just a test. He forgot what he wrote too and said it probably read “something like QWERTYUIOP.” Tomlinson was also the first to use the @ symbol in email addresses, by the way.
2. 2.8 million emails are sent every second
According to Internet Live Stats, about 2.84 million emails are being sent each second. Yes, one second! Or roughly 20 million emails by the time you finish reading this sentence. Or 245 billion (!) in a day.
3. Spam messages account for over 50% of all email traffic
According to Statista, the worldwide email spam rate has been dropping in the last seven years. That said, 55% of all email messages sent in 2018 were still spam. Thank goodness modern email services such as Yahoo Mail and Gmail are pretty good at filtering suspected spam messages automatically so that they don’t land in our inbox.
4. The first spam email was sent in 1978
On 3 May, 1978, Gary Thuerk, who was a marketer for the Digital Equipment Corporation at the time, sent out an unsolicited marketing message to hundreds of people on ARPANET (the predecessor of the modern internet). While many people didn’t like it, the campaign did generate some sales. The rest, as they say, is history.
5. The worst password continues to be “123456”
According to password management company SplashData, the top three in its top 100 worst passwords list for 2018 are “123456”, “password” and “123456789”. Considering that many people use the same password across services, I’m sure this list applies to email passwords just as well. I’m sounding like a broken record here, but please switch to a strong password and turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
6. 42% of Americans check their email in the toilet
DMR has a large collection of useful and interesting business statistics, including email stats. Through the resource site, I came to know that Adobe once did a study in 2015 about email habits and found that 42% of Americans check their email in the bathroom. To be clear, it’s been four years since the study was published, so it’s possible the latest number is lower (or — gasp! — higher). What about you — do you check email when you’re on the throne?
7. Spam email has nothing to do with spiced ham
Back to spam: don’t believe it when someone tells you there’s a connection between “spam email” and “Spam”, the latter being a canned meat product by Hormel Foods Corporation. The origin of “spam” to describe junk email is actually a 1970 Monty Python sketch. In it, a wife ordering breakfast is frustrated that the waitress keeps repeating an ingredient she doesn’t like: spam!
8. Tuesday is apparently the best day to send email
According to CoSchedule (and 14 studies), the best day to send an email is Tuesday. And if you’ve to send another email, the next best day is Thursday. Timing is important too, and the best time is said to be 10am, followed by 8pm. I reckon all this applies more for marketing emails than work emails because I can’t be sending this article to my editor next Tuesday when she wants it in by today, right?