On May 3rd, 1978… the very first Spam E-Mail (or just “email” for you young whipersnappers) was sent.
It was sent by a man working in marketing for Digital Equipment Corporation – specifically to promote the DECSYSTEM-20.
Some interesting factoids about this first spam:
The email account this was sent from was “THUERK at DEC-MARLBORO”. Note that this was back before “.COM” and other top level domain names. We're talking old-school ARPANET, here.
This was sent to every email address on the West Coast of the USA. Or, at least, close to it. This was much easier to accomplish back then.
The email addresses were all entered into the “To:” field directly. However, only 320 were allowed in a “To:"… so the rest rolled directly into the text body of the email itself. Once this was realized, the email was re-sent out to every poor soul that missed it the first time around.
It was all in caps. Whole thing.
This is the DECSYSTEM2020 - the specific computer being promoted in the first spam:
Image credit: Wikipeda / The Living Computer Museum
What follows is that complete spam E-Mail. Because… who doesn't want to read spam email over 4 decades old?
DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY OF COMPUTERS HAS EVOLVED FROM THE TENEX OPERATING SYSTEM AND THE DECSYSTEM-10 COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE. BOTH THE DECSYSTEM-2060T AND 2020T OFFER FULL ARPANET SUPPORT UNDER THE TOPS-20 OPERATING SYSTEM. THE DECSYSTEM-2060 IS AN UPWARD EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT DECSYSTEM 2040 AND 2050 FAMILY. THE DECSYSTEM-2020 IS A NEW LOW END MEMBER OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AND FULLY SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 MODELS.
WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH. THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:
TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 - 2 PM
HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT)
LOS ANGELES, CA
THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 - 2 PM
DUNFEY'S ROYAL COACH
SAN MATEO, CA
(4 MILES SOUTH OF S.F. AIRPORT AT BAYSHORE, RT 101 AND RT 92)
A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.
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