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Raymond Tomlinson is a computer programmer who is credited with creating email. In 1971, Tomlinson took an existing system for local email, known as SNDMSG, and added a file transfer program called CPYNET, so that messages could be sent over a network. Tomlinson’s work was done for the ARPANET project, and email quickly became the dominant activity over the network.
Email was the first "killer app" for the early Internet, accounting for a majority of the packets being sent back and forth on ARPANET. Tomlinson was, of course, the first person to send email across a network. The computers he used were side by side and the message was a random string of characters that he quickly forgot. Tomlinson is also credited with choosing the "@" sign to separate an individual email from the host. It was such an elegant solution that it persists to this day.