Did you know, electronic mail or E-mail is older than the Internet? E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate [cite: Wikipedia]. Internet on the other hand, came into commercial existence in 1988, even though the origins of WAN (Wide Area Network), based on TCP/IP, came into existence in 1983 [cite: Wikipedia].
In 1988, Corporation for the National Research Initiative began the experimental use of their systems for Email, providing the first sanctioned commercial use of the Internet. The first commercial email providers came in the form of Compuserve in 1989. America Online (AOL) and Delphi joined the email bandwagon later in 1993.
In later years, email became very popular and AOL ruled the roost for quite a while and provided paid email subscriptions to users along with its Internet packages. Microsoft also wanted to get onto the email bandwagon, and purchased Hotmail, known as Windows Live Mail today, in 1997.
Hotmail was originally created in 1995, by Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia and had a huge user base of 8.5 million subscribers by 1997. Today Hotmail is one of the largest email service on the Internet. Yahoo Mail!, which is another popular email service also started in 1997, and has over 280 million active users today.
Gmail which is credited with revolutionizing how we look at email today was launched on April 1st 2004, and was perceived as many as a April Fool’s joke, based on the day it was released. Gmail was the first to offer users with 1GB space, which was huge in those days, where Hotmail and Yahoo offered only 6MB and 2MB respectively.
Gmail also made use of a fully AJAX based UI and threaded conversations approach, which was a instant hit with users, as browsing emails was even easier. In addition to that, the search feature worked amazingly well. In its initial years, Gmail was invite-only, which meant that only current users could invite users to use the service. This in turn, drove interest towards the service and made it hugely popular.
These days, most email services, provide users with unlimited disk space storage, and also enhanced GUI with several add-ins to make the email experience much better. Most of the email services also allow users to access emails on their desktop, using software like Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird for Free.
There are several ways in which people abbreviate electronic mail, including email, e-mail, eMail and EMail.