Jakob Nielsen: Internet Guru, (Possible) Inventor of Spam
September 18, 2000 6:16 PM   Subscribe

Saw it on k10k last week. Old. No offense.
posted by Zeldman at 8:08 PM on September 18, 2000

"No offense"
On the contrary, I take deep and abiding umbrage at your remark. I sit here, nearly screaming in anger at my computer screen, and I fear that I'll have to break a few of my most precious objects in order to work through the fury.
posted by aramaic at 8:32 PM on September 18, 2000

Besides, there was spam before march of '94. When was that big thing with the lawyers? Remember that? Where they sent out some huge spam just after .com'ing was allowed? You know what I mean?

posted by sylloge at 9:09 PM on September 18, 2000

The Queen of England sent email in the 1970s. Sorry, I don't have the link, but it's a true part of the history of the Internet.

What they don't tell you is that, a few minutes later, she started getting email back.

The first message began, "Look, we don't want to waste your time ... or ours."

Jakob gets credit for everything.

Aramaic, anger is a holy emotion. Work through it, baby.
posted by Zeldman at 9:15 PM on September 18, 2000

Center & Siegel's Green Card Lottery message hit the net on April 14, '94. But that was USENET spam whereas Jakob's spam from the month before was through email. And of course the motivations behind the two messages were far different.

I don't recall if I received the original Jakob message, but I do remember the Green Card message. There's a page with the original Green Card text but I'm too lazy to link to it now. Time for a movie.
posted by gluechunk at 9:22 PM on September 18, 2000

Here's one copy of the Canter and Siegel Green Card Lottery Spam. Stanton McCandlish's take on spam and Monty Python.
posted by tomalak at 10:20 PM on September 18, 2000

Another personal reference. Jeff Johnson recalls spam from the early 80s at Xerox:

"I've been using e-mail since the early 80's, when I worked at Xerox. Back then, the only thing akin to today's spam was the occasional email sent to the entire company by overzealous employees who were Mary Kaye cosmetics distributors, parents of Girl Scouts, or the like. (Such transgressions occurred in spite of the fact that most Xerox employees had to read an email etiquette document before being given an email account.)"

(Background for you freaks that love background: Johnson is the principle of UI Wizards and worked at US West, Xerox, HP, Sun Microsystems... and author of GUI Bloopers (with kudos from Jakob and Don Norman).
posted by tomalak at 10:28 PM on September 18, 2000

Thanks to both of you. (And Lawrence, how do you do it? Are you just really good at query construction? Do you have some special ├╝ber-Google?)
posted by sylloge at 11:16 PM on September 18, 2000

It's probably just query refinement... For the Johnson link, here's the Google keywords: history+spam+internet+1993. The 1993 brings up the link from the 31-60 results to the top 30, then it's scanning and reading. Why 1993... random "early Net history" number that can remove other misc. entries.
posted by tomalak at 8:20 AM on September 19, 2000

Does anyone truly believe it took until 1994 before anyone realized the power of grep+sendmail?

I was at CNA a bit back when they were considering selling off their personal insurance biz. Somebody sent out a company-wide e-mail, but the [All Employees] entry wasn't restricted ... somebody replied, something to the effect of "this does not apply to our department", and mail server latency meant that several people replied to HIM saying everything from "it's relevant" to "don't do this" to "SHUT UP! I AM TRYING TO WORK!" In short order, nervous corporate tempers flared, and there was a full-blown USENET-style flamewar. It was probably 250+ messages before it all ended, and managed to degrade the mail system performance for a couple of days (which only made latency worse, and increased the number of unnecessary replies).

Anyway, not at all the same thing as Jakob. Just another reply-to-all goof-up.

(Oh, the PI biz? Went to Allstate.)
posted by dhartung at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2000

I'd buy copies of "The Tomalak's Realm Guide to Query Construction" as presents for friends and colleagues. You should consider publishing that.
posted by sylloge at 3:25 PM on September 19, 2000

Nielsen rules! (And we're not related).
posted by geir at 5:33 PM on September 19, 2000

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