The first e-mail I ever wrote

email-1005x1024Something I had forgotten:

When our work office was first going to get electronic mail, sometime c. 1995, it was all a bit mysterious as to what we would use it for. We all went to some computer lab, where it was explained what it was and how to send it. We were instructed to create messages. One of my colleagues wrote to me, “How did I get here?”, which is the first e-mail I ever received. I replied, “Same as it ever was.”

These, of course, are references to the Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime, which was then stuck in my head, and now I’m going to stick in in YOUR head. (If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)

Some things I remember:

I know we could NOT have get to the World Wide Web before January 1995 because our director at the time gave a talk about the Kobe, Japan earthquake, showing what was available on the web. I was annoyed that other offices in our building had email and web access before we did, since we had what I felt was a more direct need.

Long before the e-mail etiquette has been codified – no SHOUTING, e.g. – there would be some unpleasantness about the “tone” of a message. There was a real learning curve, with some hurt feelings.

One of the business advisers from one of our outreach centers came to visit us in the central office, c. 1997. Their office did not yet have e-mail; given how ubiquitous it is now, I know that’s hard to believe, but was nevertheless true. I sent some e-mail to a few people, including my colleague who was sitting in his desk perhaps three meters away. The adviser thought this was daft. “He’s right here! Why don’t you just tell him?”
I had a dream the night after the “forgotten” info was revealed to me, and it featured a song giving the days of the week:

It’s Sunday
Monday Tuesday
It’s Wednesday Thursday Friday

I realized the tune was What You See Is What You Get by the Dramatics. Here’s the Soul Train rendition, which cuts off too soon, but is more fun to watch. I’m a sucker for the rolled tongue effect.

Not to be confused with WYSIWYG.

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