And Mazzucato c’n piss off n’all

Originally from Amsterdam, New York, Tomlinson went to school at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MIT in the 1960s, and was working at research and development company Bolt Beranek and Newman – now Raytheon BBN Technologies – when he made his email breakthrough.

The program changed the way people communicate both in business and in personal life, revolutionising how “millions of people shop, bank, and keep in touch with friends and family, whether they are across town or across oceans”, reads his biography on the Internet Hall of Fame website.

According to a 1998 profile in Forbes magazine, Tomlinson showed a colleague his invention and then, famously, said: “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.”

At the time, few people had personal computers. The popularity of personal email wouldn’t take off until years later but has become an integral part of modern life.

“It wasn’t an assignment at all, he was just fooling around; he was looking for something to do with ARPANET,” Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman said of his creation of network email.

Tomlinson once said in a company interview that he created email “mostly because it seemed like a neat idea”. The first email was sent between two machines that were side-by-side, according to that interview.

He said the test messages were “entirely forgettable and I have, therefore, forgotten them”.

Of course the State created everything and thus we should be paying higher taxes according to Mariana.

20 thoughts on “And Mazzucato c’n piss off n’all”

  1. And prior to Darpa/Arpanet, the first home PC’s came out of groups of tinkers and hobbyists in places like the Homebred Computer Club, who then set up businesses when they realised what the demand was for these boxes. There was zero support or encouragevent from either government or big companies.

    The home computer revolution is entirely due to small entrepreneurs taking components and repurposing them and creating a new device.

    Incidentally, IBM only succeeded in the PC market when they started behaving like a hobby company, and began using non proprietary chips for their XT assembling a product other companies cool look at and figure out how it worked.

    Of course, that nuked their mainframe business, but eggs/omelette etc.

  2. Although, I wish the autocorrect on this mac worked properly.

    Sort it out, Dead Steve Jobs!

  3. So, the govt created an expensive system that didn’t do very much.

    And somebody – not working for the government, even not working for his actual employer – had a bright idea about how to use it. And made it work. And we all benefit (especially now Bayesian filtering condemns most of the crap to ignominy of the spam folder and subsequent unread deletion.)

    Therefore: PAYS MOR TAXES!

  4. Caveman-era Mazzucato would have imposed a per-rotation tax on the wheel, stifling innovation until the other cavemen rose up and beat the shit out of her.

  5. @Andrew M
    “Caveman-era Mazzucato would have imposed a per-rotation tax on the wheel, stifling innovation until the other cavemen rose up and beat the shit out of her.”

    I think you have proposed a great acid test for regulation: if you can imagine cavemen en masse beating the maker of a proposal to death, it should be immediately discounted.

  6. Thank you, Raymond Tomlinson – without you we might all be using X.400* email – motto: you’re not a real man unless your address is too long to fit onto a business card.

    *Developed by the ITU – a UN agency whose members were (certainly at the time) mostly government monopoly PTTs. Also responsible for such technological triumphs as X.25 networking and ATM (no, not hole-in-the-wall machines).

  7. “At the time, few people had personal computers.”

    That’s not the way I remember 1998.

  8. I had to examine how X400 worked back at Uni in the 1980s. I think I only just managed to avoid having my brain turn to cheese.

    Ah, the good old days when my email address host name was before we succummed to the foreign bigendians. 😉

  9. Re: Chris Miller – ATM was cool, if completely ridiculously complicated.

    Now’s its all everything over IP – even Richie could do it..

  10. I’m sure I’m in the minority here but I personally think a tax on email would be great if done properly.

    My idea is that every email sent has a 10p tax. Upon receipt of the email the recipient can choose whether or not the email was a valid use of the intertubes. Emails that are determined to be useful by the recipient can be flagged as valid and the sender gets their 10p back.

    The benefits to this will be a huge drop in the number of spam emails. The government will have a new revenue stream that allows them to cut other taxes spend more. Finally old Alaskan Senators will be placated by the use of intertubes.

  11. @Johnny – ATM operates at the physical and link layers, so nowt to do with IP. Its main competition was Ethernet and it was soundly thrashed on both price and performance.

    It was designed by telephone companies to carry voice traffic and didn’t handle data particularly efficiently. Nowadays all voice is carried as data (mostly over IP).

    We now return you to our regular financial diatribe 🙂

  12. “That’s not the way I remember 1998.”

    The profile was written in 1998 – Tomlinson’s adoption of the @ sign for arpanet e-mail was in the early ’70s.

  13. John Fembup

    I can only assume in whatever part of North Korea she was working it was the case that PCs were being rationed – what a blowhard she is. Unutterably dreadful and in desperate need of extraordinary rendition to ISIS held territory…

  14. @John Fembup, March 7, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    “At the time, few people had personal computers.”

    That’s not the way I remember 1998.

    John, engage brain before allowing your fingers access to a keyboard.

    In your world I must have been imagining using email (on JANET) at University in the mid 1980s

    In the real world I did:
    The tech world reacted with sadness over the passing of Tomlinson, who became a cult figure for his invention in 1971 of a program for ARPANET, the Internet’s predecessor, that allowed people to send person-to-person messages to other computer users on other servers.

  15. Bloke in Costa Rica

    ATM was never meant for LAN stuff or even backhaul really. When I was in that line of work it was touted as being the thing you’d use on the fatter SONET/SDH links i.e. OC-48 and above. Lots of my colleagues were working on Wireless ATM. I never really saw the point. It was horribly wasteful, with 13% of the cell being header. WAN-PHY and IP in general dealt it a death-blow.

  16. Top tip for anyone inventing a cool computer technology – google your abbreviation, or at very least ask your mates (if you’ve got any) what they think it stands for.

    I used to be an Automated Teller Machine boy and agencies would constantly ring me up and offer me Asynchronous Transfer Mode jobs.

  17. So Much For Subtlety

    Roue le Jour – “Top tip for anyone inventing a cool computer technology – google your abbreviation, or at very least ask your mates (if you’ve got any) what they think it stands for.”

    Hey it could be worse. There are a lot worse things in fact. See if you can pick one from this list:

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Look up ATM or atm in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

    ATM or atm may refer to:

    Atmosphere (unit) or atm, a unit of atmospheric pressure
    Automated teller machine, a cash dispenser or cash machine


    1 Biology and medicine
    2 Computing
    3 People and organizations
    4 Transportation
    5 Other uses

    Biology and medicine

    Ataxia telangiectasia mutated, a protein kinase involved in cell cycle regulation


    Adobe Type Manager, a computer program for managing fonts
    Alternating Turing machine, a model of computation used in theoretical computer science
    Asynchronous Transfer Mode, a telecommunications protocol used in networking
    ATM (computer), a ZX Spectrum clone developed in Moscow in 1991

    People and organizations

    Abiding Truth Ministries, a nonprofit organization in Springfield, Massachusetts
    Airport code for Altamira Airport in Brazil
    Association of Teachers of Mathematics, a UK teacher organisation
    ATM FA, a football club in Malaysia
    Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, public company responsible for public transportation in Milan


    Active traffic management, a motorway scheme on the M42 in England
    Air traffic management, a concept in air navigation that includes air traffic control
    Altamira Airport’s IATA code
    Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, a public company responsible for public transportation in Milan

    Other uses

    Actun Tunichil Muknal, a cave in Belize
    Amateur Telescope Making, a series of books by Albert Graham Ingalls
    Anti-tank missile, a missile designed to destroy tanks
    Apollo Telescope Mount, a solar observatory
    Ass to mouth, a sexual act
    At the money, moneyness where the strike price is the same as the current spot price
    ATM (2012 film), a 2012 American horror film
    ATM (2015 film), a 2015 Indian film
    ATM: Er Rak Error, a 2012 Thai romantic comedy film
    Automatenmarken, a variable value stamp
    Able Toastmasters, a post-nominal from Toastmasters International

  18. We know that Al Gore invented the internet.

    This article is incomplete without telling us how Tomlinson stole the idea from Al.

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