Which email service is owned by Microsoft?

And the answer: Hotmail.

Photo credit: Roger Tooth via The Guardian

In 1997, Microsoft acquired the web-based email service Hotmail for more than $400 million. At the time, email was often associated with internet service providers. But web-based email services like Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL made it possible to login to email from any computer, not just the one at home.

Although email is now embedded into the normalcy of everyday life, it was once a revelation to the way we communicate. The very first person to send an email was Ray Tomlinson in 1971 – however, the idea of using a computer to send another person a message was nothing new.

Instead, history remembers Ray Tomlinson as the inventor of email for the conventions that he introduced in that very first email. For example, to send the email at the time, you needed that person's name and the name of their computer. These two pieces of information were separated by the "@" symbol, a convention which has become common practice today.

Tomlinson was also working on something revolutionary at this time: Arpanet. This quickly-developing system was essentially a precursor to the Internet as we know it today, and within its system was the first widespread introduction of email. The first email standard was finalized within Arpanet in 1977, including common things such as the "to" and "from" fields and the ability to forward emails to others who were not initially a recipient.

The domain of email has since expanded tenfold. Learn more about the growth of individual email platforms over the past few decades below.

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