Kurt Kleiner in New Scientist:
Thirty years ago next week, Gary Thuerk, a marketer at the now-defunct computer firm Digital Equipment Corporation, sent an email to 393 users of Arpanet, the US government-run computer network that eventually became the internet. It was the first spam email ever.
That commercial message, sent on 3 May 1978, drew a swift and negative reaction. Recipients complained directly to Thuerk, who had made no attempt to hide his identity, and DEC was reprimanded by the Arpanet administrators.
Nevertheless, the email was a portent of things to come. Today, spam makes up 80 to 90% of all emails sent – around 120 billion messages per day – and is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Today spammers target not just email, but also websites, blogs, social networking sites, and cellphones.
[H/t: Linta Varghese]
And there seems to be no end in sight, as spam-fighters struggle to keep the junk from overwhelming useful communications. Spammers and anti-spammers seem locked in an arms race. No one expects that the fight against spam will be won anytime soon, despite Bill Gates promise in 2004 that the world would be spam-free by 2006.