Return To Sender!

This morning I was sad to read of the death of the Ray Tomlinson, the man credited with inventing email, at the age of 74.

raymond tomlinson

It isn’t known if the New York engineer left an ‘out of office’ message, but it is thought he will be cremated in a deleted mail bin at a quiet family funeral later this week.

He devised the program allowing the sending mail between users on different computer hosts connected to an early network called ARPANET in 1971.

Previously, mail could be sent only to others who used the same computer. To achieve this, he used the @ sign to separate the user name from the name of their machine, a scheme which has been used in email addresses ever since.

Tomlinson couldn’t recall the contents of the first ever email, but an unnamed colleague thought it could have been “Meeting at 11:00 to discuss redundancies of postal delivery staff. As this is highly confidential, keep it under your hat! …… If you haven’t got a hat just don’t tell anyone! …… By the way your flies are open!!” …. Or maybe not!

As with conventional mail, the receipt of an email brings a mixture of emotions. Good news makes you jump out of your chair, punch the air in exultation and shout “Get in there you beauty!!”……. What do you mean you don’t do that?! You’re so bloody undemonstrative!

Then there are the marketing emails from companies like Wowcher, Living Social and Secret Escapes. These daily multiple emails offer a mixture of deals of the day/week where you can unearth the odd gem like a good value holiday, cheap break, meal deal or gadget reduced in price.

Unfortunately, these emails appear to be blast emails so, on occasion, the demographic targeting can be a bit out. For example I’ve had emails that have included offers for vibrators, a deal for breast implants and a cut price massage from an orangutan.

I was going to take up the orangutan massage, but was warned that with my hairy back I might be the subject of unwanted advances, so decided against it!

Then there are the emails that are as undesirable as the bills and tax demands delivered in conventional post! These are heart sinking electronic communications demanding the settling of a bill for things like vibrators, breast implants or an orangutan massage!


I shouldn’t forget the amorous type of email between lovers. These are an alternative to the traditional love letter, where you shower your beloved with sanguine words of romance that melts their heart with the text of unbridled quixotic splendour.

These courtship emails woo your intended with a veritable lexicon of romantic impetuousness. Chivalrous prose of such power that will make your beloved forget you ran over her cat the last time you visited.

How could your intended resist when greeted with words such as “I’m sorry about Tiddles the cat, love! But as recompense I’ve arranged for you a spa treatment…… Do you like orangutan massages?!”

Or if poetry is your thing, you could woe your partner with chimerical colloquy of prose. I always found a well penned poem won the heart of a fair maiden…… That or asking her which football team she supports!

I found the following poem was always well received during my courting days in the north east of England:-

Roses are red,

You are quite canny,

I’ll give you £5

If you show me your face!

I know it doesn’t rhyme brilliantly at the end but I struggled to think of anything suitable that rhymes with canny!

Anyway, to close I just want to say RIP Ray Tomlinson. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have ever said “Chuffing hell, not another email offering me a bloody orangutan massage!”

roses are red

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