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Tomlinson, Ray Tomlinson, Ray (1941-2016)

Ray Tomlinson created one of the biggest communications phenomena almost by accident - e-mail.

In 1971 he was tinkering with a programme that allowed staff at ARPANET to leave messages for each other. He'd been working on an experimental computer program called CYPNET that transferred files between linked computers, and thought it would be a neat idea if you could transfer messages as well as files.

He chose the "@" symbol to mark the difference between a message that needed to go to a mailbox on the local computer and one that was headed out onto the network.

Typically, he told his colleagues about it via the mail system and it caught on like wildfire - although it took about five years before ARPANET realised what a hot property they had.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...