How-To Geek

The Evolution of Email [Infographic]

Over the last 40 years email has evolved quite a bit; take a peek at this infographic to chart significant milestones in the history of email.

Provided by the Microsoft Outlook team, the above infographic does a solid job highlighting key moments in email history. As we get closer to the present, however, you have to take it with a grain of salt as it becomes a little Microsoft-centric given the origin of the image.

Evolution of Email [via MakeUseOf]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/17/11

Comments (11)

  1. NeozOne

    Nice job !!

  2. Anonymous

    I saw nothing about BBS’s from the 80’s/90’s. In fact, I see someone even thought the “Internet” was actually called the “Internet” in 1977. Maybe in extremely small groups a handful of people did, but not really. Here’s a short snipet from, :

    In 1990, the ARPANET was retired and transferred to the NSFNET. The NSFNET was soon connected to the CSNET, which linked Universities around North America, and then to the EUnet, which connected research facilities in Europe. Thanks in part to the NSF’s enlightened management, and fueled by the popularity of the web, the use of the Internet exploded after 1990, causing the US Government to transfer management to independent organizations starting in 1995.

    So I agree. The chart does look a little Microsoft-centric. And in true Microsoft fashion it also looks like a little revisionist history may be going on too.

    Just goes to show we can’t believe everything we read, I suppose.

  3. Richard Schwartz

    The wording “The first commercial email system, Microsoft Mail is released for he Mac” is just plain wrong. Commercial email systems that preceded Microsoft Mail include IBM PROFS, DEC All-in-One, Wang OFFICE, and Data General CEO. Backups of PROFS messages even played a role in the Iran-Contra scandal.

    Also, what is Facebook doing in this picture? Not once, but twice? Facebook’s messaging is less functional than any of the systems from the mid 80s. It doesn’t deserve to be part of a picture of ‘evolution’.

  4. Evert

    As usual, Microsoft doesn’t really have a clue of what’s going on… No mention whatsoever of FidoNet. This infographic is below par when it comes to the quality on

  5. Umair Shaikh

    Check out another infographic related to the Evolution of Email, which contains some interesting facts as well :

  6. Brett

    The dates for the first commercial email being 1988 is utter nonsense. Well prior to that date I had been using the Datapoint system, which interestingly, displayed the status of emails you had sent and what the recipient did with them – from received to opened (or read) through to deleted. It was a hugely successful system along with some others, but it well predtaes 1988. Their earlier product IEOS (Integrated Electronic Office System) was in use in 1983 with a simple email system built in.

    And where is CCmail in this mix?.

  7. Brett

    Addirionally, I was a BBS user and used a text version of email – messaging – I am unsure if the term email was used but I tend to think so. And whatever it was called, the product was what we now call email.

    PLUS there were gateways to the Internet as far back as 1984 that I know of and used. I recall the delight, in whichever year, that the Internet,(used in universities but not by the general public yet), got these gateways. All aspects of this news item concerning the early email, l around its inception – is plain wrong.

  8. Jim

    BitNet was used in 1the 1980’s between colleges.

    Also in that same period, AlohaNet connected colleges in Hawaii (you probably guessed that) and included both wired and radio (wireless) connection, invisible to the user.

  9. bluelord

    Where is irc? Mirc? AOL? who cares really about FB anyway? Hellooo we are geeks out here!!

  10. March Hare

    Wow, is there a ton of information missing from this article!

    Who can forget ICQ?

    Facebook? Seriously??

  11. Keith

    I agree – This article was thrown together quickly. The research is incomplete and not up to date. No mention is made of one of the stalwarts of e-mail – Outlook express, nor is any mention made of e-mail integration into mobile phones.

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