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April 1, 2014 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Gmail is ten years old today.
posted by Sebmojo (180 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Better get my affairs in order.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:18 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


Previously.
posted by zabuni at 3:21 PM on April 1 [12 favorites]


Whenever it was difficult to get a gmail account, there were sites set up where you could sell/trade invites for like, money or favors or goods or whatever. I was a little late to the gmail game but still had some invites to offer people, so I poked around these sites for funny deals. A lot of people were offering pictures of foreign countries, stickers, poems written in one's honor, etc.

Somewhere out there, I hope, there's still a ten year old hamster bearing my name.
posted by sibboleth at 3:27 PM on April 1 [37 favorites]


I'm going to lose this fight, but I'll pick it anyway: the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004.
posted by box at 3:27 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


I actually would have initially guessed it was older, but after reconstructing my memories of how long I was using hotmail or my work email for personal stuff, that makes sense. It just seems like it's been longer.
posted by LionIndex at 3:28 PM on April 1


oh my goodness it hurts my brain to see that there's a "previously" thread for the release of Gmail ten years ago

god bless MetaFilter
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:28 PM on April 1 [27 favorites]


I really, seriously, do not want to think about how much of my life I may have dedicated to email over the last 10 years were it not for the revolutionary approach that Gmail brought to it. It would easily be in the months category.

This doesn't apply just to how I look at my email, the time saved by threading alone. The time I've saved in searching, the time I've saved in not bothering ever to put anything in a folder ever again. The time I've saved with labels and filtering and all kinds of other things that make technology do what it's meant to do: do the work for me.

My email has, in ways, turned into my schedule / calendar, my filing system, my goddam memory, for crying out loud. It is my catalog of life experience, in many ways, at this point. I should probably go back it up again now.

It is a small Thank You to type this out on a comment on some community blog, particularly considering how much use I have gotten out of something that I got for free. Maybe they're happy enough for having me as a potential ad revenue turner, I don't know. But all the same, I am deeply thankful for all of the deep minds who brought this revolution to my life.

Thank you, Gmail.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:28 PM on April 1 [19 favorites]


I'm going to lose this fight, but I'll pick it anyway: the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004.

You've certainly got me beat - I still have my "Gmail is different..." email, but it's from September '04. I used to delete with extreme prejudice, so the next three things are from a year later, then it jumps two more years.
posted by LionIndex at 3:31 PM on April 1


Great, now I went back and looked at my oldest emails in gmail. I will now spend the rest of the day thinking about how big of an idiot I was in 2007. Thanks internet.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:39 PM on April 1 [18 favorites]


I think I remember people trading Metafilter accounts for Gmail invites or did I dream that?

Anyway, anyone remember spam?

I got my money's worth, that's for sure.
posted by vapidave at 3:39 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


August 25, '04, the very first e-mail I sent said "You probably haven't heard of this, but its an upcoming big thing, I'll see what it takes to get you an invite so you can reserve the username you'd like."
Wish I picked stocks like that.
posted by meinvt at 3:39 PM on April 1


the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004.

Heh, I know I was one of the very earliest recipients of an invite, but the earliest email I have is from May 22, 2004 because I remember distinctly that I still had old email habits when I first got gmail, namely, I would religiously delete emails as soon as I didn't need them, before I grokked that you really don't need to do that in gmail... yes, I was traumatised by always running out of space on those skinny 2MB accounts. So I was deleting emails for some time before I caught on - I am quite sure I had the account before May 9, but alas, the oldest email is from May 22.
posted by VikingSword at 3:40 PM on April 1


I'd like to thank Gmail for saving me from running my own MDA for ten years... and then I'd like to thank Fastmail for saving me from Gmail's increasingly crappy UI and flaky IMAP.
posted by nicwolff at 3:41 PM on April 1 [8 favorites]


June 22nd. Looking back at the emails I sent/received ten years ago just made me realize that "We'll keep all your email forever!" may actually have a downside.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 3:45 PM on April 1 [9 favorites]


I'm going to lose this fight, but I'll pick it anyway: the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004

May 10 :'(
posted by zippy at 3:48 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


April 30, 2004. Ten years of Google reading every word I write. Well, and the NSA too.
posted by The Michael The at 3:49 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


April 26 of 2004. I remember how improbably huge the storage space seemed. Man, wasn't it 2GB? It might as well have been INFINITE SPACE!
posted by Andrhia at 3:49 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


Looking back at the emails I sent/received ten years ago just made me realize that "We'll keep all your email forever!" may actually have a downside.

Very true, inspired by this post I'm now looking at some mails from way back when. Good Lord, I had a different life then.
posted by jontyjago at 3:50 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Gmail.
posted by allkindsoftime


Eponypropriate.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:53 PM on April 1


Some of my first gmails were about my impending wedding, and my most recent are concerning my impending divorce. The circle of life.
posted by desjardins at 3:54 PM on April 1 [48 favorites]


Metafilter is how I got my Gmail account in 2004. Hey mathowie, thanks for the invite.
posted by annathea at 3:54 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


10 years (in June) and at 7.5 GB still only half full. That alone seems remarkable for free email.
posted by adamt at 3:55 PM on April 1


Ah... oh no. Why did I decide to look at my earliest gmails? Ten years ago...
Why...
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:56 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


Reading ten year old gmail makes me want to nicer to every person who is sometimes horrible, especially 2004 me.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:57 PM on April 1 [12 favorites]


One of my first emails on my then-new gmail account was a registration confirmation for Second Life
posted by zippy at 3:57 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Well I'm cementing my status as a contrarian here, but I must be the only one who COMPLETELY FUCKING HATES the new Gmail format...
posted by mikeand1 at 3:57 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


The old thread is great. I distinctly remember this day, but it's so hard to properly situate myself in that context. A gigabyte was so immense!

I think at the time I probably only had 40-80 or so in my computer. I can't even remember.
posted by pmv at 4:00 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Wow, my 2004 emails to Mr. Pterodactyl, my then-boyfriend, are SHOCKINGLY similar to now, only I said "way" instead of "super" so the emails were like "I way don't feel like going to the gym" instead of "I super don't feel like going to the gym". God, what an annoying person I was then and what an annoying person I am now.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 4:00 PM on April 1 [33 favorites]


Its scanning of messages to find keywords that could be used for advertising purposes kicked off a conversation about online privacy that continues on to this day.

I'm not sure that's a positive point, considering we're ten years down the road, we're still talking about privacy (while steadily losing it) and Google still scans your email.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:00 PM on April 1


...Gmail's increasingly crappy UI and flaky IMAP

This a thousand times. I actively dislike Gmail now and are trying to move away from it. It is just got too 'crappy' to use easily and enjoyably. I use Outlook.com a lot now and will take a look at Fastmail, although the thought of paying for e-mail seems strange... yeah, yeah, I know we want everything for free.
posted by vac2003 at 4:02 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


> God, what an annoying person I was then...

I can't remember if I actually deleted my late '90s-era Hotmail account or whether I just abandoned it (and subsequently forgot my username)...but either way I hope no-one ever reads those emails again.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:07 PM on April 1


That Time article is great. I was working at Google at the time Gmail was developed and the article seems completely accurate to me and reveals little bits and pieces that are new. Sadly my only contribution to Gmail was hassling them about so long (jealously hoping to poach engineers) and telling them this crazy dynamic Javascript thing was a bad idea. On that later point Paul Buchheit just tweeted "The JS thing was so scary that we also created a pure-HTML Gmail. It's still there and still classic". You can try the static HTML Gmail yourself, I'd forgotten all about it.

Launching Gmail was an enormous accomplishment. Not just the 2G of storage, not just the AJAX techniques, not just the amazing spam filter, not just the innovative threaded UI. But the whole package together, as a mainstream consumer product, some serious vision.

Sadly Gmail feels a bit dated to me now. The UI has gotten complex with too many buttons and options. I'm kind of hoping someone takes a stab at doing something completely new and revolutionary with email. Although I'm also kind of hoping email dies out as a bulk medium, too. It won't though.
posted by Nelson at 4:08 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


I'd like to thank Gmail for saving me from running my own MDA for ten years... and then I'd like to thank Fastmail for saving me from Gmail's increasingly crappy UI and flaky IMAP.
Oh how I pine for the UI yesteryear.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:08 PM on April 1 [4 favorites]


Heh, I have seven times as much storage on one gmail account as I had on a computer that I paid $2,700 for back in the day.

I don't know about the cloud, I don't have that much data. I just email shit back and forth between my two accounts. I'm at 2%.
posted by vapidave at 4:09 PM on April 1


I checked back to the first few emails of my gmail account, and one of the subjects was "Welcome to CRAZYMAZEY'S HOUSE OF HORROR FORUMS!" Torrenting sites were a lot weirder back then, I guess. Apparently I also signed up somewhere to get a free flatscreen TV. Just for the record, I never received that flatscreen and now I'm livid about it.
posted by naju at 4:09 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


July 7th 2004. I was late to the party.

I remember the original metafilter thread, and after being a very long-term lurker (Finally joined a few years ago so I could send somebody a memail, actually), it's good to see so many of the posters from 10 years ago are still around.
posted by KGMoney at 4:13 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


20 May 2004. My second email received was "how the hell did you get Gmail?" and my response was "because I'm a Blogger user and I guess they are using us as guinea pigs". I would never have remembered that. (And echoing people who are noting how annoying they were back then).
posted by Pink Frost at 4:15 PM on April 1


June 22, 2004.

I wish I could go back to the person who composed that very first Gmail and give her a hug pry the liquor bottles and airplane tickets out of her trembling hands shake her by the shoulders really, really hard. Lord, to be 22 forever.
posted by divined by radio at 4:15 PM on April 1 [10 favorites]


It must have been almost exactly 20 years ago that I first used email, via a telnet account provided by my university. During peak hours (unless you had a personal computer capable of connecting to the network, which no-one I knew did) you usually had to line up to use one of the terminals, and once I got to the front of the line I was often there for upwards of an hour because long-distance phone calls were really freakin' expensive and that was the best way to communicate with friends at other schools (and weirdos I was meeting on the INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY).
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:16 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


My main account, I have actually been pretty aggressive about deleting stuff, but I didn't get it until later anyway. My first account was the name of a common flower and its oldest message is June 20, 2004. July 6, 2005, was the first email that came to me that was clearly intended for someone named Cassidy who was very much not me. By August, I was getting Cassidy's notifications about her class ring and offers for senior pictures. By the end of that year, I was getting a million emails from universities for her, and a bunch of stuff that I think is Chinese, and one guy who had gotten an email from a girl named Angela at a club. By March 2006, I was getting recipes from Cynthia, by December of that year my own emails are fully drowned out by people trying to sell Sue Pampered Chef, and Paul saying happy birthday to his mom, and pictures of strangers' babies. I haven't actually used it since then.

In the last week, that account has gotten a bunch of ebay notifications for a guy who is going to mysteriously find that his password no longer works shortly, some press releases, a Twitter password reset, updates from Facebook and ChristianMingle, and stuff from a realtor about a property I wanted to see in Kuala Lampur, and from another realtor in Sacramento.

Evidently the more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by Sequence at 4:20 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


My current passtime:

Going through the previously thread and "favouriting" the comments that talked about whether the services will work or not and how much storage can they offer for maximum and what this will mean for yahoo/msn etc.

:)

Some pretty interesting perspectives there.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 4:32 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I remember how improbably huge the storage space seemed.

It still does to me! I've had Gmail for years, pretty much never delete emails, and apparently I'm still only using 36% of available space.
posted by threeants at 4:33 PM on April 1


Nelson: I'm kind of hoping someone takes a stab at doing something completely new and revolutionary with email.

They did. It was called Gmail :)

Agree that things have gotten way over-complex and button-y lately. Seems to happen to every decent email client eventually. Circle of life.
posted by word_virus at 4:34 PM on April 1


I just celebrated by responding to an email in gmail that my dad sent me almost 10 years ago. The fact that we still have that email and didn't have to delete it to make more space over the years was a seriously great innovation, and one that I now take for granted.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:36 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Everyday I think to myself, "Tomorrow I'm going back to Eudora, I swear." And never do.
posted by notyou at 4:38 PM on April 1


Pine!
posted by sammyo at 4:39 PM on April 1 [17 favorites]


Relevant xkcd

This happens to me at least once a month. It's 'tweens signing up for some social media account, getting on someone's FWD:FWD:FWD: about a girl scout troop coordination, to a guy sending his bank statements to my account. It's a bit disturbing that the latter didn't have a confirmation.
posted by cmfletcher at 4:40 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


9/16/2004:
"Just wondering when the RICOH JPN W019 format will be supported. Thanks."
posted by griphus at 4:42 PM on April 1


My first gmail message is from 8/05 but I had it earlier than that but didn't use it for at least a year because I wasn't ready to switch from Yahoo Mail.

Sadly, I still have that stupid Yahoo account because I haven't figured out a better way to store the seven years of archive I have there.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I'm a laggard.

August '04 is my welcome email. Then there's barely a handful of other messages until September '05 when I started forwarding my personal domain there. And since my sent mail only starts in earnest in April '06, that's probably when I really started using it as my main window to the email world.

I might've never started doing that -- I might have instead continued to use mutt on the machine where my domain was hosted -- except the host crashed rather catastrophically, and backups were either not being done daily or were corrupted a week or two back, because I lost a week or two of data/email.

At first I did it just to have an extra copy of email another place and trusting Google seemed like a better idea than trusting any hosting service I could afford at the time.

Then I started noticing the spam filtering was *way* above and beyond what I had set up locally, and I wasn't missing spending time tweaking my filters, and the web UI had some advantages over a terminal MUA.

I've since moved over to trusting Google way too much, I think, since I don't have messages going elsewhere or backed up. Given the horror stories, I really should change that.
posted by weston at 4:45 PM on April 1


cmfletcher: "Relevant xkcd

This happens to me at least once a month. It's 'tweens signing up for some social media account, getting on someone's FWD:FWD:FWD: about a girl scout troop coordination, to a guy sending his bank statements to my account. It's a bit disturbing that the latter didn't have a confirmation.
"

My gmail is [first initial][middle initial][very common last name] and I constantly get signed up for weird random crap by mistake. I was on a youth soccer coaches' mailing list from southern California for years before I managed to get off of it. It had a security question that I couldn't answer on the unsubscribe page. I finally just started posting to the group asking for someone to get me off the list.
posted by octothorpe at 4:49 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile Yahoo mail just did the improbable and massively simplified and beautified their interface. It's just a list of messages and a list of folders. It doesn't try to guess what goes where and it never guesses wrong so everything is where I expect it to be. And I don't get spam, either. I actually get my gmail account forwarded to yahoo cause I can't deal with Gmail.
posted by bleep at 4:54 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Ooh, LOVE Pine! I still use it for one of my older accounts.
posted by Melismata at 4:56 PM on April 1


My earliest email in my gmail account is 12/7/2003...
(but that is because I imported my mail into it in about 2007)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:00 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I got my account in July 2004.

One of the first emails in my gmail account is from thefacebook.com.

Another is from Harvard's fas mailserver (I was forwarding my college email to my gmail account) notifying me that my inbox was over the 40MB quota and that I was slowing everyone's accounts down.

Apparently, this was also the week that I decided that what my email signature really needed was ascii art of an echidna:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
         .        Firstname Lastname
    ._`-\ )\,`-.-. Dunster Mail Center
   \'\` \)\ \)\ \|.) Cambridge, MA 02138
 \`)  |\)  )\ .)\ )\|  room: (617) 493-XXXX
 \ \)\ |)\  `   \ .')/|  cell: (857) XXX-XXXX
``-.\ \    )\ `  . ., '(   mdmXXXX@fas.harvard.edu
\\ -. `)\``- ._ .)` |\(,_    fas.harvard.edu/~mdmXXXX
`__  '\ `--  _\`. `    (/
  `\,\       .\\        /
    '` )  (`-.\\       `
       /||\    `.  * _*|           ,.:ECHIDNA!:.,
                 `-.( `\        _-'              '-_
                     `. \      /                    \
                      `(c     |                      |
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

posted by ocherdraco at 5:01 PM on April 1 [37 favorites]


June 16, 2004. I think at least some invites ebbed and flowed through Metatalk posts at the time? A portion of my early sent messages are invites to other people. I think I started using it as my main account pretty early on; the 'bottomless pit' part of it was quite enticing.
posted by carter at 5:13 PM on April 1


8 August 2004. My first email is me sending myself a copy of my PhD upgrade material as a back-up strategy. My second is someone telling me Gmail is creepy. My third is someone from 4rthur asking for an invite.

In a happier world, this is a thread about 4rthur's tenth anniversary.
posted by bebrogued at 5:14 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I'm going to lose this fight, but I'll pick it anyway: the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004

April 23, 2004. It's the "Gmail is different..." email that everyone gets. My 2nd is me sending myself a Excel Spreadsheet that was used to track what I was doing each hour of the day, 3rd is a copy of my personal blog post on Blogspot.com. And then about 8-10 emails I sent to myself of Craigslist ads advertising apartments for rent in the Berkeley area.
posted by FJT at 5:18 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


One of the first emails in my gmail account is from thefacebook.com.

Look at this guy everybody, he went to Harvard.
posted by empath at 5:23 PM on April 1 [9 favorites]


If only it was still invite only!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 5:25 PM on April 1


Hmm, October of '04 for my oldest and now oh god run away from your 21-year-old self's emails, run far away!
posted by jason_steakums at 5:26 PM on April 1


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=_. ` `= `- ` "`-.
==._`-`-._ . `-._ ` `.
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----. --.__`.\ ` .a,`-________
===. -===._ --.`. ` __._(________6===============================+
___..- ` .--'"
_.- ..---"'
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.==' .'
.-'
a:f .-'
posted by threeants at 5:26 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


supposedly that is also an echidna
posted by threeants at 5:26 PM on April 1 [9 favorites]


FJT: "April 23, 2004."

Hah! Beat ya by one -- April 22, 2004. "Gmail is different. Here's what you need to know", followed by a confirmation email for a free hosting promotion from 1&1 internet (they're still around, I see), a forwarded email from a friend at MIT about a proposal for a giant Terminator robot for one of their buildings, and an Orkut invite (heh).
posted by mhum at 5:26 PM on April 1


June 30, 2004, and I remember thinking I was waaaay late to the party.
posted by penduluum at 5:30 PM on April 1


I went through a phase of deleting everything, so my earliest stuff is from 2009. Alas!
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:33 PM on April 1


June 11, 2004. The first email still remaining in the inbox is to the guy who invited me. The subject line of which is "Gmail makes me sexier in the eyes of women".

What was it people were saying above about running screaming from you 10 years ago?
posted by Inkoate at 5:33 PM on April 1


Lord, to be 22 forever.

Amen.
posted by penduluum at 5:34 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


empath: "Look at this guy everybody, he went to Harvard."

Are you trying to make fun of me for where I went to college? Yeah, I did go to Harvard. I happened to be there when I got my gmail account. We're sharing stories about when we first got gmail.

Also, if you really want to know, it ought to have been "she went to Harvard," anyway.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:35 PM on April 1 [18 favorites]


Oh wow, that old thread. It's back from before everyone hated google!

I traded someone a sega gamegear, the rechargeable battery pack, and a huge stack of games for my gmail invite. Sure felt like a dumbfuck later.

And yea, 1gb was a lot back then. 256mb flash drives were still like $20 as i remember, and digital camera memory cards were generally sub-1gb as well. i had just upgraded from a system with a 30gb hard drive to a shiny new 120gb, which was huge at the time.

It's also weird to think about all the interneting i did on CRT monitors, and how long into the 2000s those survived.
posted by emptythought at 5:39 PM on April 1


I'm pretty sure I bought my gmail invite on ebay.
posted by ryanrs at 5:41 PM on April 1


I got an account on May 3, 2004, and the first thing I sent was a mass e-mail to zillions of friends and relations looking for accurate mailing addresses to invite them to my wedding.

I was initially confused by gmail's fancy conversation thread system and thought a day had gone by and no one had replied. Then I stopped being an idiot, figured out the tabs, and opened up my 50 congratulatory happy e-mails all at once and it was like Christmas.
posted by gerstle at 5:41 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


Are you trying to make fun of me for where I went to college?

Just teasing about the name dropping.
posted by empath at 5:42 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


That sounds wonderful!
posted by ocherdraco at 5:42 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


(Ha, that was to gerstle.)

Wasn't intentionally namedropping, it's just where I was at the time.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:43 PM on April 1


It's also weird to think about all the interneting i did on CRT monitors, and how long into the 2000s those survived.

The Homestar Runner threads yesterday and today made me think about my old CRTs because the first thing I thought on revisiting the site was "weren't these animations, like... way, way bigger?" I can't believe how much design work I did on giant fuzzy screens with terrible resolution.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:44 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


I went to Harvard, I opened my gmail account in 2006, and I still haven't gotten around to really starting to use it. However, I use both Google Plus and Google Groups regularly. In conclusion, I am a weirdo.
posted by escabeche at 5:46 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


You kids. I started emailing with a VT420, a 2400 baud modem, and a shell account.
posted by ryanrs at 5:48 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


(cue graybeard with a 300 baud modem and a teletype)
posted by ryanrs at 5:48 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


jason_steakums: "Hmm, October of '04 for my oldest and now oh god run away from your 21-year-old self's emails, run far away!"

Sadly, there's not much difference between my emails at the age of 39 and emails at the age of 49.
posted by octothorpe at 5:48 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


My first (sent) email is from August, 2004. It mentions my father's recent passing, which, wow, that was 10 years ago. I didn't use Gmail seriously until 2008, after I'd been through several ISP, unversity, and work email addresses and realized my gmail address had been the same the whole time.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:54 PM on April 1


But endless storage is not unique to gmail; I have email I wrote as long ago as 1998. I wrote Joan Birman a long email about volume growth in the braid group.
posted by escabeche at 5:54 PM on April 1


I believe proper Harvard name dropping involves never actually mentioning the school.

E.g. "Where did you go to college?" "I went to school in Boston."

If really pushed they'll narrow it down to Cambridge and leave you to draw the inference.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:55 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


Remember how long Gmail was in beta? One of the big reasons it was stuck in beta all that time was because Google didn't have a good solution for offline backups of your email.

Google believed that email was very important; too important to only store on disks in their datacenters. Data stored on disk is vulnerable to being deleted by bugs or security holes. So Gmail was kept in beta until Google developed massive robotic tape libraries capable of keeping up with Gmail traffic.

All your email has been stored to tape, packed in boxed, and shipped to warehouses for long term storage.
posted by ryanrs at 5:58 PM on April 1


My oldest gmail message is from 1 Sep 2004, and contains as its message body, "w00t!"

I believe that this officially means you are all cooler than me.
posted by sldownard at 5:59 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Ooh, LOVE Pine! I still use it for one of my older accounts.
posted by Melismata


You're kidding, right? If not, wow.

Not until 2006. I didn't trust Google from the beginning, actually, for what it's worth. I've always downloaded and deleted everything at the end of each semester, not that they couldn't have kept copies, I suppose.

Now my university has succumbed to the "farm out email services to Google," so I have to do it with two accounts.

My love for GMail has mostly to do with how blessedly free of spam it has always been. But I've been this close to closing my Google account in the last year, and use it less and less.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 PM on April 1


20/04/2004... first few gmails were various ham radio things, list sign-ups and a "Woo - I have a gmail account!" to the future Mrs Devonian.

Astonishingly little has changed.
posted by Devonian at 6:02 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I signed up in August 2004. I remember thinking that one of my friends would surely get an account and share an invite, but none did. So, desperate to ensure I got my my preferred username, I bought an invite off eBay for $1 and got my favorite username (my last name)! ... aaaaaaaaand so for the last 10 years I've got regularly misdirected emails from across the globe for people with my lastname. (No I'm not going to cosign on your student loan/No I'm not going to your bachelor party/No I don't need your receipts from Macy's online/Cripes, man, why would you register for a porn account and do so with the wrong email address?) Apparently everyone on earth with my lastname, outside my immediate family, is a technomoron.

But: AAAAAA+++++ WOULD BUY DESIRED USERNAME AGAIN

And in looking through my oldest Gmail messages I found a message from a certain "mathowie" about my new MetaFilter account. I opened the message to reminisce and see it's for a different account I forgot I'd registered, and which is a lower usernumber than this one! What other mysteries are in the lost Tomb of Tutengmail?!
posted by barnacles at 6:03 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


You can try the static HTML Gmail yourself, I'd forgotten all about it.

I used it on my work computer from '08 until I guess '12 due to computer (and especially web browser) ancientness.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:07 PM on April 1


It's really cool that songs and pieces of writing that I've done, which I thought were lost forever in crashed hard drives etc., or forgot about a week after they were made - are all floating around in my gmail account, in the forms of attachments that still exist to be downloaded. I'm tempted to put out a bandcamp album consisting entirely of unearthed gmail gems.
posted by naju at 6:07 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


The best thing about getting on the beta early - back in the days when being a tech journo actually had these sort of mad perks - was that I got the same nick as I've been using since the mid-80s. The second best thing was that I got regular batches of invites which we could use as competition prizes on our website, back in the days when being an online tech news site actually counted for something.

Ah, so much nostalgia in only ten years. But they were, at least, Internet years.
posted by Devonian at 6:08 PM on April 1


Reminds me that I need to run gmvault again soon!
posted by dhens at 6:13 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]


octothorpe: Sadly, I still have that stupid Yahoo account because I haven't figured out a better way to store the seven years of archive I have there.

I am not an IT person, so please don't sue me for bad advice if this annihilates all of your emails since time immemorial:

Maybe make a small investment in something like Yahoo Imap Connector, sync your Yahoo account with something offline (Thunderbird or something), then sync that with Gmail through IMAP?
posted by dhens at 6:18 PM on April 1


Reminds me that I need to run gmvault again soon!

Thanks, bookmarked. I just used google's backup export service which took half the morning.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:19 PM on April 1


I think there are other IMAP Gmail backup applications that are a bit more GUI-friendly than gmvault if you are interested, but gmvault seems to handle gchats and labels pretty well.
posted by dhens at 6:20 PM on April 1


oh my goodness it hurts my brain to see that there's a "previously" thread for the release of Gmail ten years ago

And most of the commentary in that thread is about whether it's an April Fool's prank (even though the thread was posted on March 31, 2004, not April 1).
posted by John Cohen at 6:25 PM on April 1


10/5/04. And the first thing after the welcome email was a heartwarming forward titled "The Magical Grapefruit of Love" from an undergrad buddy. Oh my.
posted by janell at 6:31 PM on April 1


I no longer know what my gmail signup date was - when I left them in the wake of the Reader shutdown, I purged everything from the IMAP export older than 12/31/04. Apparently I gave my mother one of my invites, though. From Jan 5, 2005 - "I think I like softhome better. Can we disconnect gmail and reconnect softhome?"
That's right, my mom had gmail before some of you did.

Also, softhome.net - still kicking. Somehow. (6MB storage! 10MB/month transfer! For free!)
posted by sysinfo at 6:32 PM on April 1


11/9/03.

Oh wait that's SquirrelMail.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:32 PM on April 1


Having a real rush now, pulling ancient memories from the cranial back-up. My first email account was on Prestel, using a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a 1200/75 VTX2000 modem, and the first 'proper' email system I used was on a VAX 11/780 via a VT100. There were Bix/Cix/Telecom Gold/the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link/MCIMail/CompuServ/AOL/Fidonet and various BBSs/packet/quite a lot of systems to which I may not have had entirely legitimate access/MUD/PMCMoo...

All lost, like tears in the rain. Except Gmail, of course.
posted by Devonian at 6:34 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


After years of being frustrated by crap email addresses at hotmail, I signed up for [firstname].[lastname]@gmail.com in June of 2004 and was ecstatic it was still available.

In a fit of optimism I used my first invite to register [my girlfriend's firstname].[my lastname]@gmail.com. I held onto that account, unused, for over 3 years. Worked out, eventually. If it hadn't, I think I would feel like a real jerk for stealing that name from anyone who could have actually used it.
posted by jermsplan at 6:36 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


I still have the gmail is different message but the very next one I have is from my roommate back in the mid 90's sending me an .mp3 of song from Richard Cheese. A decade has passed, 1GB of online storage is no big deal, and that song still makes me giggle.
posted by cmfletcher at 6:43 PM on April 1


cue graybeard with a 300 baud modem and a teletype

110, but who's counting?

(Did not actually have email on that machine, did however get a great workout on the electromechanical teletype keyboard)
posted by zippy at 6:45 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


My first email is "Welcome to Gmail!" in December 2004, and then two emails that read "test" and "testing", respectively, and then the account went entirely unused until two years later when I needed to submit a college assignment and the school's email system was down. Then it is completely unused again until I started graduate school in 2009. Apparently I was extremely dedicated to my college email account?
posted by pemberkins at 6:51 PM on April 1


So my first in April '04 was the 'welcome to Gmail' one, the second is after a gap of 2 months advising me my emergency passport was ready for collection (so I could go on that trip with my then boyfriend to hasten the end of the relationship. Also, Magic Joe if you're reading this I have suspicions you took my previous passport when staying on my couch). The gap makes me think I was still conscientious about deleting junk in those days.

But the third.... oh the third... it was a super nice response to my Declaration of Fancy sent via email to Ryan North. He assured me he was flattered but not single, but T Rex was and I should totally go for it. You know, I totally might.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:57 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


My invite cost me $10 on eBay, and with it I was able to secure the coveted <first initial><last name>@gmail address I've had ever since, and to which many other confused people sharing those identifiers routinely route their own correspondence, even after I beg them to stop. First email in my archive is from June 1st, 2004, at which time I was sending out lots of resumes to crappy tech companies in the Boston area trying, and failing, to get a job.

I've since left tech companies and the bleakness of my then-life in Beantown behind, but the email address persists. As someone far too lazy and/or not self-involved enough to keep a journal or a blog or any other substantive curated record of my daily existence, Gmail (along with my Metafilter comment history) is pretty much the only evidence I have that I was alive, thinking, feeling, and going about the mundane tasks of everyday life a decade ago.
posted by killdevil at 7:09 PM on April 1


August 23, 2004:

First off, welcome. And thanks for agreeing to help us test Gmail. By now you probably know the key ways in which Gmail differs from traditional webmail services. Searching instead of filing. A free gigabyte of storage. Messages displayed in context as conversations.

So what else is new?

Gmail has many other special features that will become apparent as you use your account. To help you get started, we encourage you to visit our Help Center, there you can browse frequently asked questions, read our Getting Started guide, or contact the Gmail User Support Team. You'll also find information in the Help Center on such topics as:

Importing your contacts from Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, and others to Gmail
Using address auto-complete
Setting up filters for incoming mail
Using advanced search options

You may also have noticed some text ads or related links to the right of this message. They're placed there in the same way that ads are placed alongside Google search results and, through our AdSense program, on content pages across the web. The matching of ads to content in your Gmail messages is performed entirely by computers; never by people. Because the ads and links are matched to information that is of interest to you, we hope you'll find them relevant and useful.

We're working hard during our limited test to improve Gmail and make it the best webmail service around. Thanks for taking the plunge with us. We hope you'll enjoy Google's approach to email.


Thanks,

The Gmail Team

P.S. You can sign in to your account any time by visiting http://gmail.google.com

posted by emjaybee at 7:12 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Oh my god. One of my first emails was from my mom (she died in 09), complete with a picture I had completely forgotten about, of her.

Thanks Metafilter. I never would have gone and looked if not for this thread.
posted by emjaybee at 7:14 PM on April 1 [22 favorites]


6/15/04 - A thank you email to the buddy who got me the invite, who always got me the invites to the cool new things, who's currently in a coma.

I've never deleted an email out of gmail, so our entire conversation history in there. Not sure I really want to go down that road, though.
posted by hwyengr at 7:15 PM on April 1


It's really cool that songs and pieces of writing that I've done, which I thought were lost forever in crashed hard drives etc., or forgot about a week after they were made - are all floating around in my gmail account, in the forms of attachments that still exist to be downloaded. I'm tempted to put out a bandcamp album consisting entirely of unearthed gmail gems.

I would really enjoy a blog of stuff people were able to recover from Gmail attachments that they forgot about.
posted by threeants at 7:19 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


On a funner note, my 4th email was a verification for the Obama For Illinois mailing list.
posted by hwyengr at 7:20 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Stamps now cost a dollar in Canada. Still, very reasonable in my book.
posted by breadbox at 7:26 PM on April 1


June 11, 2014. I was so proud. It wasn't for just anybody, you had to be invited. You had to know somebody.
posted by merelyglib at 7:31 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Tell us more about the future
posted by wheelieman at 7:42 PM on April 1 [8 favorites]


I have a half-dozen PST files of archived Outlook email from various jobs that I have never re-opened. But gmail, yeah, still there.
posted by GuyZero at 7:45 PM on April 1


I have no idea when I got my gmail account. Google created it for me, automatically, because I had a Google Talk account. Then they automatically added this fake email address to all my friends' Gmail address books. I only discovered that the account existed after months of inexplicably non-delivered messages from my Gmail-using friends... of course it took a while to notice that Gmail was the common factor in the email problems people had been having, since so many people used it by then.

But, yeah, if you send a message to mars.saxman@gmail.com now you will get an auto-responder message telling you that isn't my email address. I forget what it says, exactly.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:48 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Its subject line says "Wrong address for Mars." Which is true, of course. The right address for Mars is:
Mars
Solar System
Milky Way
Local Group
Virgo Supercluster
Observable Universe
posted by ocherdraco at 7:53 PM on April 1 [10 favorites]


OK I'll play along; my oldest Gmail is from April 2, 2004. Which surprises me because I'm pretty sure we had internal access to sign up before the launch. I was kind of a Gmail skeptic so maybe I held off registering until the official day? I'm glad I didn't go with nelson@gmail.com, I can't imagine the misaddressed mail that account gets.

The oldest email I have in my archives is from January 17, 1993. That's when I started to realize (duh) it was worth saving absolutely everything, not just important-seeming stuff. I never have gotten around to importing all that crap to gmail; when I'm desperate I still use grepmail on the mbox files. Pine, lol you youngsters.

One thing I'm proud of.. Google employees were given a bunch of invites. I advertised them for free on my blog. And immediately was deluged with requests from folks in India asking for a Gmail account, which I gladly gave out. I only figured out later someone in India had passed me around to their friends as the guy who was giving out free Gmail. And in India at that time having free webmail of any kind, much less awesome Gmail, was a huge improvement over what was available. About once every two years I meet someone online who tells me I gave them their Gmail account and it always makes me smile. Windfalls should be shared wide and randomly.
posted by Nelson at 8:01 PM on April 1 [9 favorites]


First received mail:
[GMAIL welcome msg]: 24 JUN 2004

Second received mail:
"Your SoundClick activation code" (I had completely forgotten about this...haven't logged in in nearly 10 years. And my account still exists?! O_o )

First sent mail:
(not counting the test email silliness)...27 AUG 2004. A conversation with my best friend and first Gmail invitee. Funny line from our correspondence:

you know what else is cool? you mentioned bread and one of the ads to
my on-screen right is about bread-making. crazy. i wonder if i
insert a random thing if it will cause a ripple in the fabric of the
ad-space continuum. . . how about: guitar?


Wow. This is kind of hard for me. It's a conversation with my best friend, and a little over year after this silly gmail conversation he will be dead (suicide).

Holy shit, I miss him.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:01 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


I scored my account in July 2004 - from a Metatalk thread. People would post they were looking for an invite and mefites were just going down the list.

I didn't use it a whole lot at first, as I was still on my college's system, but after graduation I moved over there completely and never left. I just went back and found a series of emails I sent to a girl I ended up dating for a few months, and then another one, and then another one. Evidently the 2004 - 2006 Elwood took gmail to be a kind of personal OKCupid.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:18 PM on April 1


I don't know why Google's approach to threading did not instantly become a universal standard - it's still so much better than anything I've seen by any other provider, either in webmail or in their desktop clients.

I just wish that that kind of threading, (multiple) labels, and their tabbed inboxes could somehow be incorporated into a desktop client or meet IMAP standards. Even dedicated clients like Sparrow (before GOogle purchased it and stopped development) never quite replicated the entire web experience.
posted by modernnomad at 8:24 PM on April 1


I've had it for years, personal 6/12/04 Sphinxmail 6/16/04.

I'm still pissed that pops didn't appreciate me blowing 1 of 3 invites(!) to his first initial middle initial and our last name.

Shit, gmail turned into @aol.com and I missed it.
posted by Sphinx at 8:25 PM on April 1


I'm a relative latecomer to Gmail here having only gotten an account in September 2004, but I just want say I'm grateful for this thread because it might otherwise have been awhile before I went back and read and been touched by some of the messages between my then girlfriend (now wife) and me.
posted by planetesimal at 8:36 PM on April 1


My "Gmail is different. Here's what you need to know" email is from August 8, 2004. Exactly one week later, I would go on a date with a fellow sophomore I didn't really know that well.

I sent him a Gmail invite on November 15th, 2004. Clearly things were starting to get serious.

There are thousands of emails charting the course of our relationship, through the light and funny to depression and heartbreak, all still there.

This September, it will be ten years and we're finally getting married on our anniversary. But now I can remind him, that as long as we've been together, I had Gmail first. I think he'll be okay with that.
posted by ilana at 8:43 PM on April 1 [5 favorites]


Just checked: May 26, 2004. I remember being frustrated when it came out, because none of my friends had invites to share. Not sure how I ended up with one.

The first email there is a "test" from my Yahoo account. The second is a threaded conversation with "Mustafa" and "Frostbite," arranging for a scheduled league game of Day of Defeat in CAL-O. God, I had forgotten what a pita it was to schedule those things...
posted by gemmy at 8:47 PM on April 1


How much longer will email work? My sister's kids already don't do it except to turn in homework, which is pretty much a buzzkill for them.

I have firstname.middleinitial.lastname@gmail.com and it works great for me.

But in 30 years, who wants to communicate under the moniker of Jimmy2007.bunny.bunny.1234.fresh.4321@gmail.com?

This train doesn't have too many miles to run.
posted by peeedro at 8:57 PM on April 1


This train doesn't have too many miles to run.

Which I suspect will be a sad development. With usenet already dead, and Google doing their best to kill RSS, our communication will be nicely chopped up between the phone carriers, the data miners, and the marketing wonks.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:05 PM on April 1 [6 favorites]


My oldest email is from Sept 9th, 2005 but I'm pretty sure my account(s) date back to mid 2004 via metafilter. It had obviously already become my primary email address by the time of my oldest message because all my list serves were pointing there.

I used to be worried that I'd fill the space seeing how slowly the account was growing. But now I'm up to 8% of 15GB I don't even pay attention to that anymore.

mikeand1: "Well I'm cementing my status as a contrarian here, but I must be the only one who COMPLETELY FUCKING HATES the new Gmail format..."

The great thing about gmail is it always looks the same in Thunderbird.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


peeedro: "But in 30 years, who wants to communicate under the moniker of Jimmy2007.bunny.bunny.1234.fresh.4321@gmail.com?"

That is a pretty easily solved problem by google offering more domains.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 PM on April 1 [1 favorite]


Oldest emails I have left in mine are from '06. I still remember getting my Beta invite though, from one of my more connected high school buddies. Blew my mind back then, thinking that I was somehow connected by a chain of friends-of-friends to the first few invited.
posted by fifthrider at 9:31 PM on April 1


I got an invite pretty early from someone I knew, but didn't use it because... Well, I had a first initial last initial at isp.net address and well, that was pretty sweet. But then in 05 or so, they got bought out and all emails had to be somejackedupshit@isp.com and fuck those asshats.

So my earliest email was from 11/05, though I think it was around Jan 05 that I got the account - I started college then and wanted a nice address to use for that. Still, Gmail rocks and I lurve it so much.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:35 PM on April 1


I'm pretty sure my account(s) date back to mid 2004

How to Find Out When Your Google Account was Created

posted by planetesimal at 9:37 PM on April 1 [7 favorites]


Yeah, so as well as scanning your mail for the ads (the price) and cc'ing everything to NSA (who of course come with a bag of money in one hand and a gun in the other) it's looking like Google themselves aren't above taking a look-see when they feel like it.

“Mike makes a serious allegation here — that Google opened email messages in his Gmail account to investigate a leak,” Kent Walker, Google general counsel, said in a statement. “While our terms of service might legally permit such access, we have never done this and it’s hard for me to imagine circumstances where we would investigate a leak in that way.”

Look at the wording. First, a very specific allegation is set up to refute. Google asserts their legal right to do as they please. They do deny their specific restatement of the allegation, in the specific case of Mike Arrington. Then a completely meaningless bit about some lawyer's imagination.

I won't go into details for safety reasons but something I observed recently raised my suspicions, though proves nothing. Personally, I'm spending some time dumping out my Gmails, putting AOSP or some kind of GNU/Linux on my mobile, and modifying my networking setup to avoid communicating with any Google IP blocks or hostnames.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:46 PM on April 1


I got gmail in exactly the same fashion I got metafilter. I saw it. I tried to sign up. No go. I lurked. Within weeks (not months, not years) I observed an advertised temporary open sesame and I pounced.

Then after for a few weeks I watched the subsequent temporary open sesames and tried not to be too condescending to the noobs.

The gradual discovery that google was tracking me was weird but not horrifying. Thankfully I ain't a terrorist.

There are people we know who have gmail id's like john@gmail.com. Mine isn't like that but it's about as close as I want it to be. I have an ex who had a gmail id which was something like jack249@gmail.com. I'm sure it's taken but I would much rather have satan666@gmail.com than that. Why would that be? jack249 is a perfectly cromulent id.
posted by bukvich at 9:50 PM on April 1


Ooh, LOVE Pine! I still use it for one of my older accounts.
posted by Melismata

You're kidding, right? If not, wow.


I work with a guy in hie 20's who uses pine for his Exchange account at work - on a Macbook. I showed him Quicksilver and F-script, and now he levitates a few inches off his chair while little silver orbs of energy orbit his brow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:38 PM on April 1 [2 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl: " God, what an annoying person I was then and what an annoying person I am now."

But back then you were way annoying, now you're super annoying!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:57 PM on April 1 [3 favorites]


merelyglib: "June 11, 2014. I was so proud. It wasn't for just anybody, you had to be invited. You had to know somebody"

Well, hello there, GMail twin.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:08 PM on April 1


Welcome email from October 2004, followed by a string of mp3s of Montreal music from my friend at Bucknell's radio station. AKA how I learned about Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Unicorns.

I think I must have been much more diligent about deleting instead of archiving in those days because there doesn't seem to be much chaff for the first couple years, and I know all my email wasn't the poignant, hard-hitting stuff it reads as now.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:23 PM on April 1


Sept 2nd, 2004. So a little later than I thought. Thanks planetesimal
posted by Mitheral at 12:06 AM on April 2


June 16th, 2004 I got mine. I was working on a cattle ranch north of Williams Lake for the summer, and while I'm not exactly as early to the party as a lot of people in this thread, I might feasibly have the earliest mention of the Williams Lake Stampede sent by a Gmail account.

I'm also reminded that I registered the account 'BuckTurgidson' on Plastic.com. I abandoned that a few months later when I got an account on the Plastic.com it's okay to like.

My primary email is in the form [first initial][last name]@gmail.com. I have never received something intended for someone else. My last name is pretty uncommon.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:08 AM on April 2


June 18, 2004. My earliest emails are for a defunct LARP organization I used to play in and a bunch of Kingdom of Loathing silliness.

What I remember is how shitty email was before Gmail. I bounced between several providers, hating each one of them, but the Gmail interface felt just right, like baby bear's porridge. I was annoyed at the switch to the new UI, but it's tweakable enough to make it similar to the old UI, so I'm happy with that. And it beats, oh, literally every other email interface I've ever used, so there's that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:10 AM on April 2


June 10th, 2004 (thank you tracicle!), just in time for my birthday :D

The gmail account was for everything personal, so it has tons of stuff in it now. Too lazy to clean it out properly. It's also for figuring out what IDs I used in which websites.
posted by Alnedra at 12:15 AM on April 2


I have yet to submit to the Borg.
posted by telstar at 12:21 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I'm going to lose this fight, but I'll pick it anyway: the oldest thing in my Gmail inbox is from May 9, 2004.

Dated 4/21/04 (April 21, 2004):

First off, welcome. And thanks for agreeing to help us test Gmail. By now you probably know the key ways in which Gmail differs from traditional webmail services. Searching instead of filing. A free gigabyte of storage. Messages displayed in context as conversations....


I think Google employees are disqualified, so I win???....(so far)
posted by vacapinta at 1:45 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


Oh the shame, my welcome message is dated 2nd July 2004. I had to scrounge an invite off someone who is cooler than I. I am in the UK, don't know if we were late to the party.
posted by epo at 1:49 AM on April 2


Vacapinta, I think I beat you by a day, but who can stand up to raw Google presence? Not I.

I'm in the UK, so I think we were in on it practically from the off - but there was a problem. A British company already had a service called Gmail and didn't just roll over - after a short pause, UK users got a googlemai.com address instead, when they registered. Early birds had got gmail.com addresses, and these stayed, and after a while the needful was done and everyone could use gmail.com in these sceptred isles. But I think the googlemail.com ones still work.
posted by Devonian at 3:53 AM on April 2


I got my invite late - 2005 - but from my 10-year-old kid. Who got like 10 invites with her account? More? I got three.
posted by you must supply a verb at 4:10 AM on April 2


My real-life (well,virtual real life) nick that I use on gmail is a tad unusual, but is a plausible contraction for an actor who became famous in the mid 2000s and has a large fanbase among 10-15 year old girls. Every so often, a rumour circulates online that my gmail account is in fact his, and I receive a slug of fanmail. (Curiously, most often from Malaysia.)

I am aware of the potential problems in being a 40-something male in correspondence with a large cohort of schoolgirls, especially when they are of a frank and remarkably forthcoming disposition concerning what they'd like to do with their imagined correspondent. My god, are they ever. So, while grateful of this fascinating insight into an odd aspect of fame, I normally delete these on receipt. Now and again, I succumb to the temptation to reply with evidence that no, I am not the droid they are looking for, but it never seemed to stick. Nothing over the past three or four years, though, so I think his star has faded - or, at least, his fanbase has moved on.

Thanks, gmail!
posted by Devonian at 4:27 AM on April 2


I eventually snagged a cool address, and I only had to hit F5 continuously for a month and four days! I must say, despite of it all, I'm a very satisfied Gmail user. <prays>May Google never abandon the Basic HTML view</prays>.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:57 AM on April 2


modernnomad: "I don't know why Google's approach to threading did not instantly become a universal standard - it's still so much better than anything I've seen by any other provider, either in webmail or in their desktop clients."

Burn the heretic. Gmail (and Outlook, at least the desktop client) ignore the "In-Reply-To" and "References" headers when threading, and thread solely based on subject. This is apostasy of the highest order. To wit:
4.6.2. IN-REPLY-TO
The contents of this field identify previous correspondence which this message answers. Note that if message identifiers are used in this field, they must use the msg-id specification format.
4.6.3. REFERENCES
The contents of this field identify other correspondence which this message references. Note that if message identifiers are used, they must use the msg-id specification format.

RFC822, § 4.6.2-3
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:14 AM on April 2 [4 favorites]


You're kidding, right? If not, wow.

Yup, I still use Pine with a shell account! Mostly because 1) I like Pine; 2) Am not quite sure how to import the shell account non-standard email folders into Thunderbird (askme question eventually); 3) The ISP is so old and creaky that I'm just dying to know when they'll finally close down. (It's The World, for anyone who likes ISP history.)
posted by Melismata at 5:28 AM on April 2 [2 favorites]


I used my 3rd email, in June of 2004 to email a Metafilter member about joining a burgeoning Metafilter group at "Clever Cactus". I think it was for sharing music illegally.

Some services survive, some don't.
posted by yerfatma at 5:28 AM on April 2


April 23, 2004 my oldest email. I can't believe how hold I am.
posted by marxchivist at 5:33 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


My real-life (well,virtual real life) nick that I use on gmail is a tad unusual, but is a plausible contraction for an actor who became famous in the mid 2000s and has a large fanbase among 10-15 year old girls. Every so often, a rumour circulates online that my gmail account is in fact his, and I receive a slug of fanmail. (Curiously, most often from Malaysia.)

My real life name is a combination of two incredibly common in the English speaking world names, and the result is that I get, on average, one wrongly addressed e-mail every two weeks. Recent highlights include: an Army officer who e-mailed me, thinking I was his CO, to see if he had to work on a snow day, a woman who keeps sending me other people's tax documents no matter how many times I tell her to stop, and a regular supply of e-mails meant for someone at Pill Harriers RFC, a fourth division Welsh rugby team.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:42 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


I'm tech lead on a project to migrate my university's mail to the cloud / fog. One of the people I moved this morning in the second pilot group was our last remaining pine user. I press ganged him last week for that very reason.
posted by vbfg at 5:47 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


My real life name is a combination of two incredibly common in the English speaking world names, and the result is that I get, on average, one wrongly addressed e-mail every two weeks.

Sigh. Me too, except that I get two or three a week. This dingbat with the same name as me who doesn't know his correct email address is really annoying.
posted by aught at 6:36 AM on April 2


Yes! How is that I get e-mails of people trying to shuffle stuff between their work and personal e-mails? How do they not know their own e-mail address? This isn't high level stuff, people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:38 AM on April 2


How is that I get e-mails of people trying to shuffle stuff between their work and personal e-mails? How do they not know their own e-mail address?

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:16 AM on April 2 [6 favorites]


vapidave: "I think I remember people trading Metafilter accounts for Gmail invites or did I dream that?

Anyway, anyone remember spam?

I got my money's worth, that's for sure.
"

Well, I got my Gmail through Metafilter, so there's that. From a famous internet personage, even.
posted by Samizdata at 7:22 AM on April 2


August 28, 2004. Invited by my best friend who bought his invite for $5 on eBay.
Lots of those early emails were me telling friends that I didn't like the blind dates they had set me up on. Ha!
posted by rmless at 7:38 AM on April 2


And then there's my original GMail account, which is the condensed nickname of a fictional character, and some ass with the same last name as real me apparently used it to sign up to so many places I eventually sort of stopped using that account and switch to the account I use now.

(April 1, 2004, BTW. I've already nuked all the old mail previously, so not sure what the first mail was.)
posted by Samizdata at 7:39 AM on April 2


I won my gmail account in a "write a haiku about cheese" contest overseen by Mefi's own John Scalzi (I'm the second one).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:42 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


July 1, 2004.

Wow.
posted by Thistledown at 7:57 AM on April 2


Man, I should've created a folder for all the misaddressed mail I get. From what I can recollect, most of it is for some guy with my name in Canada who does a lot of business with a car dealership in Florida.
posted by psoas at 8:14 AM on April 2


If I had to pick a gmail username these days, it sure as heck wouldn't be a common dictionary word. I get on average 2-3 misaddressed emails a day. Yesterday, I woke up with 45 emails from some UK Q&A site for teenagers, of the "U pretty, wanna meet up?" variety. Makes me very angry at the general lack of an email confirmation step for many services. Reset the password, unsubscribe from any updates, and that usually fixes it. Still annoying. But 10 years of use means it's hard to give it up...
posted by gemmy at 8:29 AM on April 2


gemmy: "If I had to pick a gmail username these days, it sure as heck wouldn't be a common dictionary word. I get on average 2-3 misaddressed emails a day. Yesterday, I woke up with 45 emails from some UK Q&A site for teenagers, of the "U pretty, wanna meet up?" variety. Makes me very angry at the general lack of an email confirmation step for many services. Reset the password, unsubscribe from any updates, and that usually fixes it. Still annoying. But 10 years of use means it's hard to give it up..."

But I herd U R pretty...
posted by Samizdata at 8:42 AM on April 2 [1 favorite]


June 14, 2004. With the next one being 6/22 with e-mails from/to MeFites about Gmail invites. I was supposed to receive a homemade scarf from one of you schmucks for giving an invite, but never got one :'(
posted by jmd82 at 9:14 AM on April 2


May 18, 2004.

I remember with amusement the websites where people were willing to trade all sorts of crazy things for a gmail invitation. I exchanged one gmail invite for an existing metafilter account (it was at the time there were no signups allowed, and I wanted to join in). I eventually got my own metafilter account, this one.

My oldest email was a MT-Blacklist/Comment Spam Clearinghouse update for my MovableType personal blog. Aaah, back in my blogging days.

I got [firstname][lastname], which turned out to be more common than I realized. My fave misdirected email was a job offer in Silicon valley. (Quickly rescinded once I explained the mistake.)
posted by Quiplash at 9:23 AM on April 2


I got my account on May 3rd, 2004 and was lucky enough to just get [lastname]@gmail.com. Unfortunately, my last name is Senior and I now receive about 20 mis-addressed emails per day. Senior citizen dating agencies, senior high school reunions, people who can't spell señor...

This is on top of the HUGE amounts of stuff that makes it into my spam folder because my address is easily generated by spambots.

My mis-addressed emails outnumber my actual emails by about 4 to 1, but my username is so sweet I can't bring myself to kill the account. It's well beyond annoying at this point. FWP.
posted by krunk at 10:24 AM on April 2


July 25, 2006 for me, so late to the party. I was invited by the person to whom I am now married and I love looking at these old emails and chats from when we were courting. Still makes me smile. I do wish I had had the foresight to get a different email address, though. My gmail address is the same as my MetaFilter username and I wish I had locked down my actual name which is impossible now as it is too common.
posted by bijou243 at 11:26 AM on April 2


Apparently I was a late adopter (2007), probably because I used university email for just about everything before then.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:03 PM on April 2


Another June 2004. I only got invited to join because I was using Blogger... I had a side job running my departmental website, and had set up a Blogger account for it to allow faculty to add announcements and such to the page. Because my email was listed as admin for the site, I got the email invite from Google (and had a lot of geeky friends jealous at the time, so I was handing out invites to people shortly after setting mine up).

My only regret? I registered my email as "mr.lastname@gmail" ... I was a year away from completing my doctorate. I thought at the time that using "dr.lastname" would be presumptuous. Years later I was kicking myself for not registering BOTH, but it never occurred to me at the time!

Oh well, at least now I have my own site at "drlastname.net" so there's that...
posted by caution live frogs at 2:26 PM on April 2


I registered my firstname.lastname@gmail.com account on 17 June 2004 thanks to an invite from Catherynne M. Valente, of all people, but I didn't start using it until the summer of 2005. And then in 2009 I transitioned to Google Apps for [My] Domain and transferred everything over.

The oldest email in that account is to my brother; it's a link to this version of the shaggy-dog story that ends "Better Nate than lever!", which punchline can still dissolve family events into a riot of gleeful cackling (me and him) and dirty looks/eyerolls (everyone else).

I use the Gmail web interface sometimes—sue me, I like it—but mostly I run alpine, which is still in development, builds without a hiccup in OS X 10.9, and works remarkably well with Gmail over IMAP. (I hear all the time that Gmail's IMAP implementation is hopelessly broken, but as a decidedly non-power user of email, I've never run into major problems.)

Aww. Internet nostalgia is my favourite kind of nostalgia. If I lose the rest of this afternoon to browsing one of the GeoCities mirror sites, I'm blaming MetaFilter.
posted by Zozo at 2:38 PM on April 2


Account created 2 Sep 2004. I remember it taking me a while to score an invite, none of my friends were particularly connected.

Ironically I've become more and more frustrated with the whole ecosystem and am putting some effort to move things off of Google. Still it's a damn effective product and I'm glad for what it provides.
posted by Skorgu at 2:44 PM on April 2


April 12, 2004. That was the "thank you" gift to Google Answers Researchers that year. Some people were awfully pissed (the year before, we got custom made blankets), but I was pretty pleased.

Still am. My various gigs keep me hopping, and Gmail saves me at least two hours a day, thanks to its filtering.
posted by MissySedai at 9:53 PM on April 2


Just to be contrarian, I am not able to reminisce about when i first used Gmail because I never have - I run my own IMAP server. Much greater nerd cred. (Although to be honest I wasn't doing that in April 2004, back then it was mail hosting facility + fetchmail + local mail spool.)
posted by illongruci at 5:59 AM on April 3


I liked Gmail when it stuck to its original premise, early 2004. The system itself wasn't novel, but it was practically unheard of at the time. I had a Mac program from back then called Boswell that used almost exactly the same organization system that Gmail was premised upon, from the global Archive concept, label & search driven storage and recall, all the way down to being unable to delete stuff, period (true, you could delete stuff in Gmail, but you weren't supposed to). I always wondered if the original developer had used or been acquainted with Boswell. But then Google added the delete button because everyone wouldn't STFU with the whining, and it's been downhill since then. I deleted my account in 2006, went back to using a standard IMAP server and an e-mail client that functions as a citizen of my operating system, instead of some kind of advertisement infested web page trying to act like software, and that was that.

Looking at screenshots of the current Gmail interface, and given how obnoxious and basically evil Google has become in recent years, I'm not feeling any regret over that decision. Still, it is without a doubt the most influential modern force in how we think of e-mail.
posted by MysteriousMan at 9:10 AM on April 3


Boswell still has a web site, although the "not Lion compatible" and 2008 date on the demo download makes me think it may be at its end. FWIW I never heard anyone talk about Boswell inside Google, but that doesn't mean anything. These ideas have been around for a long time.

"Archive everything and make it searchable" is such an obvious idea in retrospect, but it's important to remember that wasn't how we always used to think. For me Gelertner and Freeman's Lifestreams project was what really drove the idea home for me, back in 1995 or so. Here's a Wired summary from 1997 that may be useful.

BTW, deletion was a feature of Gmail from well before public release, at least the internal version at Google. Part of the Gmail launch was to get people out of the habit of deleting email because it was no longer necessary 99% of the time. But occasionally removing an email is mandatory, particularly when dealing with legal liability.
posted by Nelson at 9:19 AM on April 3



As far as I know the project is dead. It is built using Mac Classic libraries and thus requires Rosetta, so any modern Mac will have no luck with it. Pity, because there really is nothing else like it, and if you like the basic core Gmail philosophy, it's brilliant being able to have that kind of thing for most of your data. The developer made some noises about porting to Cocoa about four or so years ago, but there hasn't been so much as a beta or any news since then. So I'm guessing he lost interest or just hates Cocoa that much. Frankly, it always felt a bit out of place on OS X. You had to see it in OS 9 to really appreciate the original UI vision.

Thanks for the links, good stuff. I remember messing with the concept of "storing everything" in a non-file/folder point system back in the early '90s, using some DOS-based relational database that I abused the heck out of; I cannot recall the name of it. It was a juvenile interest, and one that has only grown since then. It's surprising to me how few programs there are out there that work like Gmail for their central architecture. It just seems like an obvious direction to go, given the popularity of the formula. There are some systems that come close in terms of architecture, but I never got on with the UI, like Evernote and Simplenote (the latter of which has reliability problems in my experience). Plus, not a big fan of storing personal/confidential data on the 'net like that.
posted by MysteriousMan at 9:41 AM on April 3


I don't know. Full-text search was the killer feature before everyone else implemented it, and it was one of those things that practically worked for me 9/10 times, with that 1/10 usually resulting in at least an hour of cussing trying to figure out exactly what synonym would give me the message I wanted without being buried under a thousand false positives. It's often true of some of my google web searches. Tags and folders can be implemented isomorphic with each other on any modern filesystem, although there are use cases where you really do need to classify with subsets rather than with unions.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:38 PM on April 3


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