It’s December 1st and today is the first day of the Xink Advent Calendar 2018! In this first advent calendar post, we go back 24 years to 1994. How did email look back then?

1994 – The Year of The First Webmail Client

1994 was a great year! Not only was it the year where the Internet started to get out into very few selected homes, but in the university environments and very technical environments, it suddenly went fast as seen with the time of those days. 

The Internet and email had actually been ‘live’ for a long time in 1994 if we also take into consideration the predecessor ARPAET but that is another story.  

1994 was the year where the first webmail client ever was released. It was created by Phillip Hallam-Baker in CERN and was far from a webmail client as we know it today. But what was then the definition of a webmail client? It is difficult to tell but it was something about the ability to ‘send a message through an internet browser to someone anywhere in the World’. Much like it is today but today it is a much more well-known term. 

Bear in mind that in 1994 there were no certificates, no https or security. There was no content-length header in POST requests. Building this webmail client initiated this specification. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a screenshot of this webmail client. So to provide something visual here is a screenshot of GNU Emacs which was used on UNIX terminals at the time as an email client. 

It is both graphically clear and to the point but unfortunately, it had no email signature capabilities:

Email history_1994_GNU Emacs

Bonus information: The SONY Playstation was released in 1994!