this screenshot shows the "inbox" page of an email client, where users can see new emails and take actions, such as reading, deleting, saving, or responding to these messages.
the at sign
, a part of every smtp email address
electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. email first entered limited use in the 1960s, but users could only send to others who used the same computer, and some early email systems even required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time, similar to instant messaging. ray tomlinson is credited as the inventor of email, as in 1971 he developed the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts across the arpanet, using the @ sign to link the user name with a destination server. by the mid-1970s this had taken the form now recognized as email.
email operates across computer networks, which today is primarily the internet. today's email systems are based on a store-and-forward model. email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store messages. neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need to connect only briefly, typically to a mail server or a webmail interface for as long as it takes to send or receive messages or to download it.
originally an ascii text-only communications medium, internet email was extended by multipurpose internet mail extensions (mime) to carry text in other character sets and multimedia content attachments. international email, with internationalized email addresses using utf-8, has been standardized but has not been widely adopted.
the history of modern internet email services reaches back to the early rfc 561). an email message sent in the early 1970s looks very similar to a basic email sent today.