We got rid of our fax machine about a year ago, after the only things we got via fax were paper-and-ink-consuming promos selling everything from discount travel to health plans to discount fax toner. And there are many days that go by where the only thing the mailman delivers to the office are ad flyers, unwanted and very fat office and cleaning products catalogues and the occasional bill. Some days, there is actually nothing in the regular mail.
What's happened? It's all in email these days -- virtually instantaneous and free. On a typical business day, I get upwards of 200 emails.
A survey just out, reported in Research Brief (via email), shows most of us check our email at least once a day. Forty-four percent of us check email at least a few times a day. Most of us (67%) check our email mostly via our smartphones, with the rest about evenly split between laptops, desktops and tablets.
Before writing this, I did some checking to learn when email began. For me, I was reluctantly pushed into using email by a client back in the early 1990s. The client, out in Palo Alto, Calif. would have me draft a news release and then send it to them by fax. They would fax back their edits and have me fax back the final for them to review and give a final go-ahead. Back then, I still didn't have a regular computer. I was using a word processor. I'd make the changes and then do a mass mailing to targeted media, making hundreds of copies, labeling envelopes and running them all through a postage meter. The postage alone often cost $90 - $100 or more.
At one point, the client said either get a computer, use email or we'll have to take the business elsewhere. So I bought a Compaq Presario all-in-one unit, only because the guy next door had the same unit and I felt if I needed help, I could just run to him.
Now, I can't imagine working without email. (Thanks for the push, Rocco.)
Email officially began in 1978, my research shows, when an Indian immigrant working a summer job at a New Jersey medical school created a way for the office staff to share their memos electronically. Siva Ayyadurai, then 14, gets the credit for the first email, despite some claims by others including a Ray Tomlinson, that they created email as early as 1971. Those claims, it seems, have not been substantiated.
Even as late as 1982, there were only about 1,000 email accounts worldwide. The explosion began in 1983, when it grew tenfold to 100,000, growing again by 2-1/2 times by 1985 and then doubling every two years till it reached a million in 1989.
The growth continued to skyrocket, hitting 5 million in 1992, 10 million in 1995, 25 million in 1996 and 400 million by 1999. It crossed the billion mark in 2007 and 4 billion in 2013.
Could you imagine not having email today?