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Jan 15, 2007

Imagine th'At

150pxat_signThanks to Ray Tomlinson, we type this little sucker all the bloody time.  Did you know it had a name ("commercial at")?  That it had many names ("ampersat", "cinnabun", "arobase", etc.)?  And, quite possibly, a French origin?  For the whole story, check in with the folks at aRiKaH.  You just might be impressed.

By the by, how many email addresses have you had so far?

Here mine that I remember:

M196 -- my account on the NCSSM VAX system, 1983-1985.  The "96" signifies that I was the 96th student (out of my class of ~220) to sign up for an account shortly after arriving on campus.  I had walked over to the CS chief's office with my friend Stephen Cole, who got M195.  I seem to recall that we signed a one-page form that probably told us what we weren't supposed to do.  Some friend's addies that I recall:  M113 was Brian Rice.  I think of him almost every time I see a digital clock displaying 1:13).  M101 was either Scott Snyder or Heath Hart, if I recall.  Scott wrote his own computer languages.  Was M116 Cindy Stubbs?  I'm surprised that I don't remember Erika's, Beth's, and Morin's.

??? -- my account at Carnegie Mellon, 1985-1986.  Why on earth didn't I use bitnet to email with my girlfriend back at NCSSM, or any of my other friends around the country?  In part because my friend Chris figured out that if you dialed the Sprint 1-800 number, nearly any random 6 digits would give you "free" access to their long distance.  Loooved it.

ST###something@bitnet.brown.edu??? -- my account at Brown, 1986-1989.  No clue why I almost never used it until my senior year when I used it only a tiny bit.  I think the Mac terminal-emulation system was way slow.

philm@cynbernetx.net (I think), 1995-1996.  My first paid subscription.  My first 9600 baud modem.  I compulsively logged in from work every fifteen minutes, which everyone in cubetown knew about because of the modem noise.  It's amazing I didn't get fired.

marsosup@ralpost.rfweston.com, 1996.  My work email.  Coincident with my discovery of the internet.  (What was that early site with links to attractive women on the web: GWOW (Gorgeous Women on the Web) or something like that?  The links weren't to porn or mySpace-like profiles.  Just to various websites that had pictures of women and their work or personal pages online.)

philmars@intrex.net, 1996-2000 or so, starting from when I went into business for myself.  Intrex had its shop in the Europa Center just down the hall from my office.  I bought my computer from them and needed lots of tech support, which I would routinely get by walking down the hall and grabbing someone.  Thus my first business maxim: If you need a computer, buy it from the company down the hall.  And my first business corollary: If you sell computers, do not sell them to the businessmen down the hall.

phil.marsosudiro@earthlink.net.  1999.  Short-lived, under the advice of wise man Dave.

phil@mars...diro.com, 2000 to present.  Me rikey.  Domain name courtesy of wise man Dave.  I think he paid ~$40 to VeriSign for that random/birthday gift.

mars...@yahoo.com, mars...@hotmail.com, mars...@gmail.com, archerpelican1@yahoo.com and at least a couple of others used for various odds and ends reasons.  Grand total ~18. I hope I've hit the end of what I'll need.

08:01 PM | Permalink



I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning, much less old email addresses. I do know that my first one was also on a VAX system, but at Western Michigan Universiy. Active from 1988 to 1991. I am sure the VAX system is gone, along with just about everything else on campus that was familiar to me. Damn progress.


Posted by: Don | Jan 15, 2007 10:31:00 PM

The only email name I remember is Alison's (M198). Just call me Mr. Ladies Man.

Isn't it interesting how our tiny little email culture that we developed back in 1985 felt so much like the email culture of today? It's as if email was some emergent property of the universe, waiting to be discovered. You know, like how dogs were around for thousands of years, and then finally the humans got around to inventing trucks for them to ride in.

Posted by: Brian Rice | Jan 17, 2007 11:25:34 AM

Or maybe she was M168. Time for me to toddle off for my Geritol.

Posted by: Brian Rice | Jan 17, 2007 11:45:35 AM

I remember Brice being M113. I was M237 -- took me a while to get online. Took me a while to remember it just now, too. Was Erika M228?

I don't think you could have used bitnet to email into ncssm back in '86 -- when my sister was there '89-91, I was trying to figure it out, even with the help of their generation's vaxgod, and it was pretty cumbersome. They didn't really want to be plugged into the world, and in the late 80s/early 90s, the only people using email were mostly at nerd schools and engineering companies.

I was in a class in grad school, ca 1995, and the professor asked us how long we'd been using email. Most people answered about 2-4 years. I said, "You mean internet, or just email, even on a mainframe?" She was just asking about email. When I answered "10-12 years," there was a collective gasp.

I think that was the same class in which I did a presentation about email etiquette (it was part of a bigger group project I don't remember), and found some report about how we have to keep teaching people the same things all the time -- like don't yell by typing in all caps, make sure you reply to who you really want to reply to, etc. Too bad I didn't have Brian's observation about the dogs and trucks. That would have tickled the professor.

Today I had a celebratory lunch with co-workers for my 10-year anniversary at work. One job. Four company names. Five email addresses, not counting synonyms. That's one company name change and two acquisitions, changing the domain name, and one marriage changing my username alias.

Now my 4-year-old googles for Disney and Thomas and Nick Jr.

Posted by: Sharon | Jan 17, 2007 4:38:34 PM

Yo, phreak, why didn't you tell me about the Sprint hack at CMU? Those phone bills were massive.

Posted by: Dave | Jan 25, 2007 1:00:04 PM

Dave -- I'm not sure why Chris and I didn't tell you. Maybe because we only felt safe doing it from a payphone, and that would have been harder for your long chats with you-know-who, made possible via the long phone cord that stretched from the kitchen into the bathroom.

Sharon -- your 4 year old uses Google?! I'm frightened.

Posted by: Phil | Jan 25, 2007 4:13:29 PM

After high school, I don't remember using email or the Internet again until grad school. (Maybe that's because phone and post were still so important to everybody I cared to stay in touch with?) And then in grad school I only clearly remember two interactions on the Internet: my first purchase from CDNow, and asking out (and subsequently being let down in a very elegant and easy way by) Sharon Stephenson. Then I was dave@ncsc.org, which seemed like a miracle to me as a new-hire. Then came Netscape, and POP, and Yahoo! has provided my present address (at ever-increasing levels of service, storage capacity and reliability) ever since.

Posted by: Dave | Jan 26, 2007 12:11:02 AM

So the day after I posted a couple weeks ago, I went on vacation, and Erika's username came back to me clearly...when we got our room assignment...(M)179. At least "Synchronicity" wasn't playing on the media system.

And yes, DS4 uses google. He reads better than I think he does, and some of that's over my shoulder. He has his "own" compluter -- DH's old laptop that IT doesn't want back. We originally set it up so he had his own (local) home page with links to disney, thomas, and the like, but now he finds his own stuff. (And I do keep an eye on it.)

Posted by: Sharon | Feb 5, 2007 3:48:43 PM

A few days after I posted above, Erika's userid came back to me in a moment of what I can only call synchronicity. (Even if there's a better word, that's what I have to call it ;-) We checked into a hotel in Grand Cayman...room 179 (sans the prefix M).

And yes, my 4-year-old uses google and has his own gmail.com address. (Blame daddy for that one.)

Posted by: sharon | Mar 7, 2007 12:35:02 PM

Strange...my Feb 5 post didn't show up when I posted today -- I remembered having troubles posting, so I figured I didn't circle back to confirm it. Didn't mean to spam your blog!

Posted by: sharon | Mar 7, 2007 12:36:33 PM

Two years late, but:

I was M109, and Scott Snyder was M108.

I remember that M101 wasn't one of the usual suspects. I want to say it was either Hill Allen or Gene Roddy, but I'm not 100% positive -- although I suspect I'll remember a few nanoseconds after I click 'Post'.

Posted by: Heath | Feb 10, 2009 9:43:35 PM

Another of my old addys: philm@vnet.net (1996)

Posted by: Phil | Apr 10, 2009 10:36:43 PM

Wasn't Geoff Davis M101? He was somewhere under 110 IIRC.

Jeepers, the trivia we fill our brains with. The humanity!

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 26, 2009 11:03:28 PM

I think I was either M101 or maybe M110. But I don't remember for sure. Probably M110 since it seems like I would remember M101.

Posted by: Geoff | Jul 27, 2009 11:39:23 PM