Email Limited

It's not clear who first used the word 'email' to refer to electronic mail. The entrepreneur Shiva Ayyadurai has taken credit since, in 1978, when he was a 14-year-old high school student in New Jersey, he built an electronic mail software program that he called 'EMAIL'.

Actually, Ayyadurai goes further and claims he not only coined the term but also invented the very concept of email. But there's a lot of skepticism about his claims.

However, what is clear is that the term 'email' was in use for decades before 1978, although not to refer to electronic mail. It was the name of a large Australian company that specialized in making meters for gas, water, and electricity. The name was an acronym that stood for 'Electricity Meter & Allied Industries Ltd.'

The tagline of the company was "Email — a totally Australian enterprise." Wikipedia notes: "At one time there would have been few houses in Australia which did not have an Email meter."

Sydney Morning Herald - July 11, 1977

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 24, 2020
     Category: Odd Names

I've been wondering what happened to the hyphen that went missing somewhere following the 90's, because we'uns called it "e-mail" when it began. When I read "email", I think it's referring to some sort of bird.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 04/24/20 at 12:01 PM
As far as Mr. Ayyadurai goes, he may have coined the term, I can't answer to that, but not the concept. In 1973, I was part of an exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis called "New Learning Spaces and Places" (NLS&P). One of the exhibits was for an innovative computer terminal that included a graphical touch screen, could project pictures/text from a microfiche, and was simple for teachers to program. It was called PLATO which stood for Programmed Learning (for) Automatic Teaching Operations. It was created by Minneapolis-based Control Data Corporation (CDC - no not the medical people) association with the University of Illinois' Champaign-Urbana campus (yes, the same place that HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey was supposedly created). It tied into the "USENET / ARPANET" network (created in the late 1960s) for "electronic messaging" services. It also had the ability for live chatrooms. You might look into NLS&P to go into detail. We had a bunch of interactive stations (they hired a bunch of us high-school nerds to act a docents) almost all of which used computers.
Posted by mjbird on 04/25/20 at 06:37 AM
"Email", as a word, is much, much older than that, but in a different context to both e-mail and this company. It's the French word for enamel, which was at some time also used in English.

By the way, Virtual, "email" is also the normal Dutch word for "enamel", which is why the official spelling of the communication method in my language is still spelt with the hyphen.
Posted by Richard Bos on 05/02/20 at 01:27 PM
Virtual, when I was a tech writer in the 1980s, there was a lot of debate about whether to hyphenate “e-mail,” which was new to most people at the time. Then, the hyphen was considered correct. But a lot of once-hyphenated words have dropped the hyphen. An example is “to-day”; my grandmother, who grew up in the early 1900s, always hyphenated it.
Posted by Brian on 05/07/20 at 09:42 AM
Then maybe my calling is to start a movement to resist the dropping of the hyphen. When reading along, I wonder what the hell a word such as "preemient" is. If it is spelled "pre-eminent", it's clear and allows me to just keep reading.
What are these hyphen-haters gaining? Are they in cahoots with the computers, where a phone number is "6565656556"? Maybe I can find an example where dropping the hyphen makes it politically incorrect. That should help reverse this subversive, de-humanizing current.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 05/08/20 at 03:24 PM
I'll help with the resistance against dropping the hyphen. For some reason, when I see "email," my mind wants to try to pronounce it similarly to "tamale." While I dislike tamales, it makes me think of tacos, then I'm hungry, and I've already lost the thread of what I was reading so I might as well see if there's any cold pizza left . . .
Posted by Phideaux on 05/08/20 at 05:34 PM
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