A Little History of Email Spam

Spam…ham in a can? Not in this instance, but unsolicited email can be just as distasteful.

The first email spam was sent to several hundred ARPANET users in 1978 to market a new computer line developed by Digital Equipment Corporation. The reaction was negative, so spam went on the proverbial lamb until commercial use of the Internet first became possible.

The Internet is a popular advertising tool because there is practically no cost to send emails messages to an enormous audience. Consequently, spam became a huge problem, and in 2003, regulations for unsolicited emails began to emerge. That year, the CAN-SPAM Act, establishing the first national standards for sending commercial email and enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, was signed into law by George W. Bush.

CAN-SPAM requires a means for recipients to opt out and prevents the hidden identity of the sender. Some very high profile judgements have been made due to CAN-SPAM and other regulations enforced around the world. However, CAN-SPAM includes no provision requiring your permission to send you an email, and with smarter email programs and disposable email addresses, etc., there is hardly much of a deterrent for most spammers.

So, unfortunately, we continue to remain on a first name basis with several Nigerian princes, and email spam remains as annoying as ham in a can.