The world's first e-mail was sent by Ray Tomlinson, an engineer in Cambridge, Mass., in 1971. He sent the e-mail to himself. It was a forgettable message that probably read "QWERTYUIOP" (the letters on the top row of a keyboard). Mr. Tomlinson was also the first to put the @ ("at") symbol in e-mail addresses, a protocol that was widely adopted in the 1980s.
Source: Tomlinson, quoted in Web-based PreText Magazine, 1998.
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