Email, that magical way of sending instant messages between electronic devices, is used and consumed round-the-clock by people the length and breadth of the planet. But have you ever stopped to think about how it came about, or how often we use it? Next time you find yourself with a group of friends too busy on their telephones to talk, reignite the conversation with these fun email facts.

Email predates the Internet

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Although it didn’t become popular until the early 1990s, the first emails were sent in 1965 via a system called MAIL at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This was four years prior to the creation of ARPANET, which itself laid the foundations for the Internet. Pioneering programmer Ray Tomlinson sent the first email as we know them today in 1971, almost two decades before the World Wide Web appeared.

The content of the first email is unknown

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Legend once had us believe that Tomlinson’s first email, which incidentally was sent to himself between two computers in the same office, included the words "Hello world". In fact, according to the man himself, the actual content was in all probability something along the lines of "QWERTYUIOP." As there’s no official record we’ll just have to take his word for it.

Hotmail was launched as recently as 1996

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Over three decades after the first emails were traded, Microsoft’s Hotmail took the world by storm with its messaging service. Rebranded as Outlook in 2012, it now has 400 million users and is available in 106 languages. RocketMail was Hotmail’s biggest contender in the early days, and later became what we know today as Yahoo!

Today, 2.8 million emails are sent every second

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Thanks to our technology-savvy friends Internet Live Stats, we can see that in just one second, 2,780,870 emails are sent on their journey. Let’s put this into some more impressive numbers: that’s a whopping 240 billion per day. If every person on Earth was sending then that would equate to 31 emails per person per day. We are also watching 77,925 YouTube videos and sending 8,415 Tweets per second.

The curious origins of the word spam

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Spam is that wonderful folder in your webmail service that gets bombarded with offers to inherit a fortune from a generous widow, purchase products from phantom companies and earn hundreds of dollars for taking part in surveys. Spam was originally, and still is, the brand name of a canned meat introduced during World War II. In the 1970s, British comedy team Monty Python referred to Spam as something unavoidable and repetitive. Techies later coined the name spammers for the people that repeatedly send you dishonest and unsolicited emails.

We spend over five hours per day checking email

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For many, email and the Internet have taken over our lives, so much so that in 2017 a vast majority of us were spending 5.4 hours every day checking messages. Naturally, this has a knock-on effect on productivity. Statistics show that time spent distracted by emails and social media costs the U.S. economy $997 billion annually.

Studies have proved that decreased email usage leads to increased health

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Fancy reducing your stress levels, relaxing your heart rate and increasing both focus and productivity? Simple: reduce your email time. A study by the University of California Irvine and U.S. Army on a group of office workers proved this. So it must be true, right?