What is the origin of the word SPAM?

by Janeth Kent Date: 03-08-2020 spam marketing email history

It is 40 years since the first spam e-mail was sent.

Surely most of the readers of this blog had not yet been born, as well as annoying mail with which we are bombarded in our emails, social networks, or mobiles already existed long before our existence.

Have you ever wondered what the origin of the word "SPAM" is and why it is used to refer to spam?

If you are using email marketing to get closer to your customers and promote your products and services you need to know where this term comes from and everything about this great marketing tool.

A tool that, if well used, can generate great profits in your business but, on the contrary, if you misuse it, it can damage the reputation of your business forever and end up being perceived as annoying and an "unwanted" company.

But let's start from the beginning.

Although it is believed that the first Spam actually dates back to 1864, when the first unsolicited message was sent via telegraph, it was on May 3, 1978, when the first spam message in history was sent.

In 1978, Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager, also known as the father of spam, sent a message to nearly 400 ARPANET users about a new model of computer, as they had not sold computers for a long time, and began to think what he could do to get their attention. He thought of searching the directory for the users' email addresses, and without thinking about the consequences, he copied the addresses one by one with the product manager Carl Gartley, and sent them, thus becoming the first electronic spam. 

When it happened, the phenomenon had not received a name, but this episode appeared in a Monty Python sketch that made it popular.

Anyway, the real origin of the name goes back to World War II, when American soldiers received canned food called Spam, which was and is very popular today.

In fact, the word SPAM first appeared in 1937 as the name of a canned product manufactured by the Hormel Foods company. Founded in 1891 in Austin, Minneapolis (USA).

spam origins

This product was composed of spiced pork and was started to be produced in response to the great demand for ready-to-serve food. We were beginning to demand fast food and time-saving meals on a daily basis.

It should be noted that we were at the beginning of the demand for canned food as the lifestyle was changing by leaps and bounds.

This company made millions with this product that came at just the right time and anchored itself in consumers' minds for decades.

When did it come to be used to label something "heavy repeated," and "annoying"?

Returning to the above-mentioned fact, Thuerk, affirmed that his action generated profits of more than 12 million in sales, although his email caused many complaints to the Department of Defense of the United States, on the part of the users who received the spam.

But when was this "spam" madness used to call in unwanted mail or any advertising that was not accepted?

Well, it turns out that in 1979, Mr. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, two of the first computer scientists in history, created a global discussion network called the Usenet (Users Network) at Duke University in the United States.

This network was used internally by academics and then expanded as a pioneer in computer communications. Just as it is now with email.

These messages that were broadcast between the computers were called NEWS. Here's a screenshot.

first SPAM

That's when the first "HEAVY" people began to appear who used this wonderful communication tool to send advertising, promotions, "business" opportunities, etc. to other people within the same network.

This network full of "wonderful geeks" with amazing occurrences and making use of the memory of the Monty Python sketch (the word "SPAM" had already been anchored for something heavy and repeated) began to call every message of this type "SPAM".

Curiosities about the evolution of Spam:

1993: Richard Depew, tried to implement a moderation system in the Unsenet (public discussion forum) with the aim of eliminating a post, ended up making a mistake and his software ended up publishing a bug that meant that more than 200 messages were sent in one of the groups.

1994: Spam became a mainstream in Unset. That is, Internet users began to receive messages such as "Green Card", messages indicating that you had won the lottery or "Global Alert: Jesus is coming".

1994-2003: Spam grew, becoming between 80-85% of emails sent would be of this character.

2003: USA, approved the Can-Spam, a regulatory law for commercial emails, in Spain the law in charge of regulating the Spam, is the Law of Services of the Society of the Information and Electronic Commerce of 2002, in its article 21.

Today, the fight against spam has only just begun. In recent years, technologies have been generated to avoid them, such as SPF, DKIM, DMARC, among others. 

It is estimated that more than half, about 66% of the emails we receive either in our emails, mobile phones or social networks are Spam, and has become, along with human vulnerability in the main channel of attack of companies.

by Janeth Kent Date: 03-08-2020 spam marketing email history hits : 4859  
Janeth Kent

Janeth Kent

Licenciada en Bellas Artes y programadora por pasión. Cuando tengo un rato retoco fotos, edito vídeos y diseño cosas. El resto del tiempo escribo en MA-NO WEB DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT.


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