Why we’re entering the golden age of email

We all know that email is where your work happens. But given your inbox’s role as the central hub of your professional life, email has largely failed to become a more effective communication tool—until recently.

Part of the reason why email has stagnated is that its one of the oldest digital technologies still being used daily. The first “email” was sent on October 29, 1969, and we’re still sending them in 2020. Some of the underlying technologies have certainly evolved since that first email, but most of the protocols being used are from the previous century. SMTP (sending email) was created in 1982. IMAP (downloading email) was created in 1986. If you think about all that’s changed with technology since the 1980s, it’s baffling to think that we’re still so reliant on protocols that are so old.

Because email is built on open standards, it has remained decentralized. Unlike many other types of tech these days, that means that no single company can own and control it. Anyone can start a company that provides an email service, and they will be compatible with all of the other email platforms on the market. If email were built on a closed system, it would likely be controlled by a handful of big technology companies—just like some of the newer modes of communication.


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