April 12, 1994: The Invention of Spam Email

Sixteen years ago today, the first spam email message was sent out to 100,000 Usenet accounts by immigration lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, offering their services:

Canter and Siegel went on to notoriety, claiming they’d made $100,000 from their Perl-script spamming. The two remained unrepentant, despite the backlash which led them to lose their hosting and even get Canter disbarred. [...]

Depending on who is counting, spam now accounts for nearly 90 percent of e-mail traffic — much of it sent through botnets or unscrupulous hosting companies and e-mail firms.


Link | Photo: US Department of Justice

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I hate to be the smartypants, but this is wrong in two important respects:

1. The C&S spam wasn't email. USENET is a discussion forum, not email. Yes, I was there; I am old.
2. It was predated by Gary Thuerk's famous May 3, 1978 mass commercial email. No, I wasn't there; I'm not *that* old!
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