This day in 1978 the first spam email was sent. Happy(?) anniversary.

Inbox spilling over with unwanted emails? Wondering how it ever got this bad?

It all started on 3 May 1978. Today is the 40th anniversary of the very first ever spam email.

Gary Thuerk, a marketer for the Digital Equipment Corporation, blasted out an email, promoting the company’s products, to 400 people on ARPAnet, regarded as the ‘first Internet’. Obviously, he was trying to sell computers and he also had some success and spam as we know it was born.

This was the offending email:

DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH.

THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 – 2 PM. HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT). LOS ANGELES, CA.

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 – 2 PM. DUNFEY’S ROYAL COACH. SAN MATEO, CA.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.

Even more interestingly, the history of spam may actually go back much further than this. According to the Economist, the first spam was sent in a telegram in 1864.

“On a May evening in 1864, several British politicians were disturbed by a knock at their doors and the delivery of a telegram. An unusual occurrence at such a late hour. Many thoughts ran in their minds. Had a war broke out? Had the queen been taken ill? They ripped open the envelopes and were surprised to find a message relating to dentistry. Messrs Gabriel advised that their dental practice would be open from 10 am to 5 pm until October. Infuriated by this unsolicited message, some of the recipients wrote to the Times. “I have never had any dealings with Messrs Gabriel,” thundered one of them, “and beg to know by what right do they disturb me by a telegram which is simply the medium of advertisement?”

Either way this month is the anniversary of the most irritating form of marketing known to man.

Spam is sending scatter-gun mass emails to any email address that the sender can get their hands on. Its irritating because the vast majority of the recipients have no connection with the product or service that is being offered and often the offering is merely a con. A well targeted email campaign starts with finding highly targeted recipients, those that are in the business of what you are selling and those that will thank you for sending the email.

Contact ESG for lead generation so targeted it should have cross-hairs.

Rahul Sharma Rahul is a content writer at ESG. He has continuously worked in areas of content marketing since last 6 years. He regularly writes about topics on outsourcing and business growth. Rahul has particular interest in the areas of marketing and management. In his spare time, he likes to travel.