Ray Tomlinson has died at 74. Tomlinson was the person who invented email and used @ sign to deliver a new way to communicate through the internet.
Tomlinson used the internet predecessor ARPANET in 1971 to develop the world’s first email system. To enable his system, the Amsterdam-born computer programmer used the “@” sign that separates username from the destination address.
In a statement, Tomlinson spokesperson Mike Doble confirmed his death. Doble said that the programmer died on Saturday morning.
Google’s Gmail team on Sunday paid homage to Tomlinson. “Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for inventing email and putting the @ sign on the map,” reads a tweet from the official Gmail account on Twitter.
Tomlinson joined research and development company Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) after receiving master’s degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. He contributed to the development of TENEX operating system that had ARPANET and TELNET implementations.
Apart from his email system invention, Tomlinson created a file-transfer application called CPYNET. This was an ARPANET program to users to transfer files from one machine to another, wirelessly.
Internet pioneer Vint Cerf called Tomlinson’s death “very sad news.” While Cerf is recognised as one of “the father of the internet”, Tomlinson was undoubtedly among its early enablers.