The first e-mail I ever wrote

I sent some e-mail to a few people, including my colleague who was sitting in his desk perhaps three meters away. The adviser thought this was daft.

email-1005x1024Something I had forgotten:

When our work office was first going to get electronic mail, sometime c. 1995, it was all a bit mysterious as to what we would use it for. We all went to some computer lab, where it was explained what it was and how to send it. We were instructed to create messages. One of my colleagues wrote to me, “How did I get here?”, which is the first e-mail I ever received. I replied, “Same as it ever was.”

These, of course, are references to the Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime, which was then stuck in my head, and now I’m going to stick in YOUR head. (If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)

Some things I remember:

I know we could NOT have gotten to the World Wide Web before January 1995 because our director at the time gave a talk about the Kobe, Japan earthquake, showing what was available on the web. I was annoyed that other offices in our building had email and web access before we did since we had what I felt was a more direct need.

Long before the e-mail etiquette has been codified – no SHOUTING, e.g. – there would be some unpleasantness about the “tone” of a message. There was a real learning curve, with some hurt feelings.

One of the business advisers from one of our outreach centers came to visit us in the central office, c. 1997. Their office did not yet have e-mail; given how ubiquitous it is now, I know that’s hard to believe, but was nevertheless true. I sent some e-mail to a few people, including my colleague who was sitting at his desk perhaps three meters away. The adviser thought this was daft. “He’s right here! Why don’t you just tell him?”
I had a dream the night after the “forgotten” info was revealed to me, and it featured a song giving the days of the week:

It’s Sunday
Monday Tuesday
It’s Wednesday Thursday Friday

I realized the tune was What You See Is What You Get by the Dramatics. Here’s the Soul Train rendition, which cuts off too soon, but is more fun to watch. I’m a sucker for the rolled tongue effect.

Not to be confused with WYSIWYG.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “The first e-mail I ever wrote”

  1. I don’t remember my first one ever, but some of my first were circa 1990, and were to a friend from undergrad days who had gone on to grad school in California.

    Sadly, I eventually lost touch with her in all of our various moves…and also, in those days, over the summers, we didn’t always get access to e-mail because we weren’t involved in classes.

    These e-mails were written on old Zenith computers – the school I was at had blue and gold as its colors, so they were set to have a blue screen with yellow type….

  2. I started in 1986 with MCI Mail, a standalone service that charged 50 cents to reach anyone else on the network. (Needless to say, there was no spam.) Remarkably, you could reach anyone else not on the network if you had the snail-mail address: they would print it out on a laser printer and drop it in the mail for you. This was a buck and a half.

  3. Roger, how can you possibly remember the text of your first email written over 20 years ago?!?! (I can’t remember the ones I wrote yesterday.)

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