1996 was a great year! One of the most important years in the history of the Internet. Hotmail was released! 

People say that the name Hotmail originated because it should include the HTML words and this is actually how Hotmail was branded in the first year: HoTMaiL. Very geeky if this is the true story! 

Hotmail was acquired by Microsoft in 1997 for $450 million and continued to run on the FreeBSD platform for some years until it was moved to Windows 2000 when it was released in the year 2000. 

1996 was also the year where Exchange 4.0 was released, hence starting the era of corporate email competition where IBM has had dominance. 

It has been difficult to find true screenshots from Hotmail from the very first release but here is the original logo: 

Hotmail in 1996

Read the story here how Hotmail got so many customers by using marketing in the email signature.

Bonus information: When Hotmail was released it was limited to 2MB of storage! 

Extra bonus info: “MH & xmh: Email for Users & Programmers” was the first book ever to be published on the Internet!