The internet began as a military and educational project, it was never indented to be used for money making, and meaning there was no reason to send out commercial mail (spam). There was no such thing as spam, just emails of a non commercial nature.
The story behind the term ‘Spam’ is one that resolves around the comedy sketching of a British comedy act called Monty Python. In this particular sketch a man and his wife are in a restaurant trying to order, but everything they order had spam in it and while trying to get an order that lacked spam there are Vikings singing in the background; “Spam spam spam spam. Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!” This episode of Monty Python was around when the internet was merely a few computers connected together via telephone wire.
It is believed the first spam email was written when the internet was called the ‘Arpanet.’ It came from an employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. The email was meant to be sent to everyone on the Arpanet; however some names were cut off as space was limited.
The accurate term for email spam is Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE), though you’ll see the term Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) used more often.
The multi-level marketing crowd and the porn pushers; these are the scammers that spam is most popular amongst because it costs them so little to send. This is because they send it by stealing the resources of others.
In 1986 a man named Dave Rhodes became one of the first people to send what is now regarded as a dreadful form of spam messages. Dave Rhodes was a supposed College student, however there is no record that a Dave Rhodes attended the college he said he did or that he actually existed at all. The email that he was claimed to have sent was advertising a Pyramid Scheme. This message was sent to a newsgroup called Usenet. Sadly a lot of people probably sent their hard earned cash to Dave Rhodes only to get nothing in return.
In 1993 a man called Richard Depew wrote a program that would delete postings from newsgroups; ironically this programme had a bug in it and ended up posting 200 messages to the News Admin Policy Newsgroup. This is the first instance of messages being called ‘spam.’
In 1994, two men known as Cantor and Siegel became two of the most hated users of the internet after posting an advertisement to 6,000 newsgroups all at the same time.
Today spam is worse than ever with over 90 million spam emails being sent every day. It is also estimated that Microsoft creator Bill Gates receives four million emails per year, with spam making up a large majority.
Over 85% of emails are spam and this number shows no sign of slowing down.