60 Seconds of WIP, 10 July 2023

Welcome to a bonus “Lucas is debugging his web site’s podcast settings to see if he can auto-syndicate” episode of 60 Seconds of WIP! Because it’s extra, I’m retreating to an earlier point in the Run Your Own Mail Server manuscript to discuss the origin of spam.

Reading transcript:

In 1978 Gary Thuerk, a salesman for the Digital Equipment Corporation, emailed several hundred people he didn’t know an invitation to a demonstration of the new DEC packet-switching systems. Nobody had ever tried commercial advertising over email. Reactions were overwhelmingly negative, but reasoned. The broader community agreed that commercial advertisements were unacceptable. Five days after the message went out the chief of the US Air Force’s ARPAnet Management Branch, Major Raymond Czahor, called Thuerk’s boss to tell them to never do it again on pain of disconnection.

This first advertising email sold twelve million dollars of computers.

Thuerk’s email established the “do not advertise in email” precedent. It also established the “random email marketing is highly profitable” precedent.