Raymond Samuel Tomlinson (was born in 1941) is a programmer who implemented an email system in 1971 on the ARPANet. Email had been previously sent on other networks such as AUTODIN. It was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to the ARPAnet (previously, mail could only be sent to others who used the same computer). To achieve this, he used the @ sign to separate the user from their machine, which has been used in email addresses ever since.
The first email sent by him is not preserved and had content he describes as insignificant, something like "QWERTYUIOP". This is commonly misquoted as "The first e-mail was QWERTYUIOP".
The first message was sent between two machines that were literally side by side. The only physical connection they had was through the ARPANet. Tomlinson sent a number of test messages from one machine to the other. Most likely the first message was QWERTYUIOP or something similar. Then he sent a message to the rest of his group explaining how to send messages over the network. The first use of network email announced its own existence.
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