How Email Evolved : From Morse Code to Artificial Intelligence

Verbal communication along with numerous forms of writing constitutes one of the major features distinguishing humans from the other forms of life. Over the entire humankind history, people have been desiring to exchange information despite the time and space between them. The ancient inscriptions on pyramid walls deliver messages left by our ancestors thousands of years ago.

Literature has aggregated the knowledge of the human civilization. However, the written sources themselves do not imply any spatial factor unless some means of their delivery is involved. In keeping with the developing technology, people were trying to make communications less relevant to the distance. Jungle drum and homing pigeons were the early forms of the messages’ transmission. The light signals emitted by big lanterns allowed sailors to communicate with the other ships instantly over the many-mile distances in the sea.

However, the more humankind grew the bigger demand for a publicly accessible means of communication arose and only with the invention of radio people got a chance to make the time and space irrelevant for the transmission of information. The present digital era offers the global population various electronic messaging systems among which email is top-ranked rightfully.

homing pigeons

Two aspects of the same issue

Over the whole course of the technological development of the various message transmission systems, people faced two main challenges in figuring out how to make sending messages both reliable and widely accessible. For example, the light signals work well only in the night when a recipient is in the direct line of sight. The sound signals make sense when they are audible. In both cases, the reliability of the signals’ transmission depends on the environmental factors. Bad weather, long distances, and many other external events can affect those visual and audible message-transmitting methods. Besides, there should be a codification of signals both a sender and a recipient acquire in order to send and receive messages. It implies a convention in the form of a unified alphabet or a code transforming the light flashes and bell strikes into meaningful content. While the environmental factors became more or less irrelevant with the invention of radio, the Morse Code used for sending messages remained the constraint keeping a wide audience away of the mass adoption of radio. By the way, the Morse Code is widely used by military radio stations up to now just because nobody but well-trained radio-telegraphists can decode Morse messages.

radio-telegraphists

Telephone, telex, and cable-dependence

When it comes to the commercial use of the remotely transmitted messages, the first quarter of the XX century gave people two networking technologies that seemingly defeated the drawbacks related to both the distance and mass adoption. They were the telephone and telex n
etworks. And both were cable-dependent. Both networks worked at a global scale but only where cables were present. Up to the middle of the 1980’s, the telex text messages were gaining popularity since no special skills were required from the operators. The only requirement for using telex networks was the telex machines both the sender and the recipient had to have. In contrast to the telephone service, the telex messaging appeared rather expensive for the household application. That’s why the accessibility of the telex system remained quite questionable. Mass media, business entities, and governmental bodies adopted telex widely once the system allowed to send and receive quite massive amounts of information almost instantly. Nevertheless, the dependence from cables kept both telephone and telex networks far from being globally adopted. Besides, both technologies did not represent any affordable technical solution such as terminals, screens or keyboards with which the text messaging was easily executable. However, the era of computers was appearing on the horizon.

the era of computers

From the proto-email to email

Beginning from the middle 1960’s operators of the corporate mainframes started leaving messages to each other using the mainframes’ terminals. Such a practice was still far from the email messaging as we know it today. However, when the computer systems were connected to the other ones located in remote offices the first computer networks appeared. Thus, the staff of the big companies having extensive network infrastructure was able to exchange information by means of computers. Leaving messages to another user of the same mainframe could hardly be recognized as a fully-fledged email even though the distance between terminals implies using a network. Besides, both the number of computers and the complexity of the networks’ architecture grew requiring more flexible messaging methods in order to allow operators of the different computers to communicate. The ARPANET network of the US Department of Defense was the first interconnected environment where the “true” email started working after Ray Tomilson invented how to address messages to another computer of the network. He applied the famous @ symbol to nominate the name of a recipient’s computer. That was in 1972, the year when email officially appeared.

ARPANET network

Internet, PCs, and the “ordinary users”

Even after the invention of the main algorithm of email functioning, the area where email messaging took place was limited to the ARPANET network. By 1976, ¾ of the total ARPANET traffic belonged to emails. One way or another, only professionals working for contractors of the US Department of Defense were able to use email for their business purposes before the early 1980’s. At that period the booming personal computers created the phenomenon of the “ordinary internet users”. People started using Apple II and IBM PC connected to the internet. Although the biggest part of all communications through the internet belonged to the military, commercial, and academic areas, the “ordinary users” audience was growing. That was the infant stage of the internet communication where proprietary dial-up systems connected the users of the same system. CompuServe, One-to-One, and Telecom Gold did not provide the interoperability when users were unable to transmit messages between different systems. Nevertheless, the email-dedicated software was developed representing the facilities which are known today as the email clients.

email dedicated software

Standards and protocols

In order not to “burn” users’ money during email communication, such solutions as the offline readers appeared. In those days, any internet activity was quite expensive, therefore an ability to read the email messages saved on the users’ computers was a highly reasonable approach. Like any other increasingly sophisticated system, email messaging required some kind of unification in the form of the international standards and protocols. Besides, by the middle 1980’s, the internet service providers (IPS) were connecting computers via the internet on the planetary level. The mushrooming email hosting sites providing access to the email services throughout the world had to correspond to the standardized protocols in order to make communication with the different email clients possible. The first widely accepted email standard which appeared in the early 1990’s was SMTP – simple message transfer protocol. Being a very simple protocol SMTP did not provide the necessary level of security and quite a significant amount of frauds and spammers have utilized its vulnerabilities to forge identities. The Post Office Protocol (POP) which appeared after SMTP created the world standard of email in the middle 1990’s when the World Wide Web made such user-friendly email providers as Yahoo and Hotmail available. That was the beginning of the era of mobile, and the Blackberry phones offered users an access to email services in 1999.

blackberry phones

Email marketing in the era of digital

By the end of 2017, the number of email accounts worldwide is approaching 5 billion. It means that almost every adult person on Earth is covered with an email service. One way or another, everyone is involved in the economic relations where such communication facility as email offers a highly efficient channel of customer engagement. The contemporary digital marketers have developed numerous types of the specific email messages capable of meeting the customers’ expectations best. The email marketing became a certain scientific and economic discipline representing various approaches to the customer engagement and ROI increase approved by the many-year multi-billion email campaigns’ practice. Nevertheless, the marketing avant-garde is continuously keeping pace with the most advanced technological innovations of the present digital era in order to compete successfully in the confined space of commerce. The forefront of the contemporary digital marketing includes such means of automation as bulk sending platforms allowing to arrange the so-called “smart” campaigns. 

Artificial intelligence empowers email for the future

Whereas the abundance of goods and services on the market makes catching the customers’ attention more difficult with each passing day, the personalization of customer relations becomes crucial for every marketer. Preparing customized email campaigns manually for big user bases is the obsolete and ineffective solution especially since such AI-powered toolkits as SendPulse are available. The profound analytics where artificial intelligence is able to cope with informational flows unbearable for a human brain brings the creation of email campaigns to yet another level.

The shared experience of big brands arranging extremely successful email campaigns represents the trigger emails as the most response-provoking type of messages ever. SendPulse combines such an experience with the advanced automation technologies in its Automation 360 system. Thus, with the help of the “smart” sending platform, every single marketer can create and execute the highly personalized customer-centric email campaigns in automatic or semi-automatic modes.

In the past, the same volume of the preparatory works for a profound email campaign required a whole department of marketers, programmers, and web designers. In assuming the various operational issues of the day-to-day routine SendPulse allows marketers to focus on strategic objectives of their brands. Now, any person armed with Automation 360 can be a one-man army. Needless to say that the smart solutions of SendPulse significantly increase ROI of every given message sent through the platform. Any commerce activity implies competition in its essence. And when it comes to competition, just the efficiency matters.

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