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Raymond S. Tomlinson: The Man Who Knows Where It's @

1207 words - 5 pages

"Almost by accident", that's how Raymond Tomlinson describes his invention of one of the biggest communications phenomena ever created (Dictionary, n.d.). The computer application took mere minutes to construct. Tomlinson had no idea what he had made. But email, whether he knew it or not, was to become an important part of the computer world and Raymond Tomlinson was to become infamous.

Email is quite possibly the most important computer application ever created. Even the most primitive of computer systems comes with access to email. The most novice computer users know how to send and receive email and the slowest Internet provider will get a user to an email server. As the first major computer application, email is a huge part of daily life, communicating between students and teachers, doctors and patients. It can travel across offices, cities, countries, even over oceans. As the inventor of email, Raymond Tomlinson has significantly affected life for all those living in the 20th and 21st centuries and therefore should be remembered and written about just as much as any other major inventor in past history.

Raymond Tomlinson was born in 1941 in Vale Mills, New York. He would grow up with two younger brothers in the small New England town. As a young boy he was frequently found disassembling various machines, apparently fascinated by how they came to work. (Carmen, n.d.). He was extremely intelligent boy growing up. He did very well in school. Often he could be heard openly correcting his teachers in class. The young boy's cocky attitude was quickly diminished after multiple lectures from his parents.

After graduating high school, Raymond attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he majored in electrical engineering. In 1960 at the young age of 19, he wrote his first computer program as an intern at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY. He went on to attend graduate school at MIT where he had problems with neglecting his studies, too busy with writing new computer programs to spend time in class (Campell, n.d.). In 1965 after getting his Master's degree from MIT in computer engineering, he began work on his doctoral thesis on computer voice recognition. In the middle of working on his thesis he paid a visit to Bolt Beranek and Newman, a large corporate company (BBN). Two years later BBN hired him to work in their Research Computer Center (Carmen, n.d.).

After Tomlinson's first year with BBN, the company was contracted by the US Department Of Defense to build ARPANET, the infant Internet. Tomlinson worked on building the program, SNDMSG, which allowed multiple users on the same computer to leave messages for each other to view later. SNDMSG used a "mailbox" to deliver messages by applying the message to the end of the mailbox. At the same time Tomlinson was working on SNDMSG, he was also testing a program (CYPNET) that transferred files between computers on the ARPANET. In 1971, while working on the two programs he thought up a way to...

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