The electronic mail or email (taken from the English electronic mail ) is a means of digital communication in writing, similar to the letters and postcards of the postal mail of yesteryear, that takes advantage of the multimedia technology of the Internet for the deferred sending of messages more or less long and equipped or not with adjuncts, between two or more different interlocutors.
Email was, for a long time, the standard form of communication among Internet users. Even today, it occupies a privileged role, especially when it comes to transmitting additional information (attachments of various kinds) that do not require immediate attention.
In the latter, email, instant messaging, and other 2.0 telecommunications are distinguished, which privilege immediacy and simultaneity. It should be noted that the term is used both to name the medium and the message itself; that is why we usually say, “we will send an email. “
Even though emails have been relegated in recent years to the workplace and corporate, it is estimated that around 144,000 million emails are sent around the world daily.
The most important antecedent of what we understand today as email arose in 1962. The IBM 7090 computer allowed the interaction of different users from remote terminals, which could exchange messages.
However, in 1965 the MAIL service emerged, a true forerunner of email, which allowed the sending and receiving messages between users of this computer.
Ray Tomlinson was the creator of the current email. He created the first experimental protocol to exchange information between machines connected to the same network: CYPNET. He was also the one who introduced the at sign (@) as a marker symbol to distinguish between the username and the service name in email addresses.
With the arrival and massification of the Internet, email became a popular and daily tool. It was first offered free of charge in 1971, and by 1977, it was the standard worldwide information exchange mechanism in online communities.
Email works, broadly speaking, the same regardless of your specific goals. However, according to the use that is given, we can talk about:
- Personal email. Those owned by individuals obey their particular interests, that is, for private and personal use. One person can have many personal email addresses and use them as they see fit.
- Corporate email. Those that serve as a written link between the different departments or segments of a company, corporation, or organization, and which can generally be accessed only from workstations, corporate cell phones, or through the use of a password that guarantees the secrecy of the information handled.
- Institutional email. Those who represent the entirety of a company, organization, or institution of any kind, serving as a communication bridge between the organization and its clientele, that is, between inside and outside of it.
How does email work?
In principle, email works in a very similar way to postal mail, so it uses it as a reference for its operation. This ranges from the name of things (messages are considered “letters” and are often represented as envelopes; inboxes are called “mailboxes”, etc.) to their operation.
The latter could not be simpler for its part: user A writes to user B a message telling something. If you wish, it is also possible to include some pertinent photographs, audio, or video files, which your computer contains.
Moments later, user B’s email receives the letter and, eventually, reads it and downloads the photographs to his computer. You can then write a reply to User A, giving back their impressions and, if you wish, send him / her attachments that you consider. This process can be repeated as many times as you wish, and it does not necessarily take place in strict shifts.
Parts of an email
Usually, an email is made up of:
- Inbox. According to a chronological or personalized order, the virtual space where the received messages rest, either in general or organized in folders.
- Outbox. Similarly, the messages to be sent rest in this virtual space, before being classified as “sent”.
- Sent folder. Where you can find the history of letters and documents sent, organized chronologically.
- Spam. This name is called Spam, usually with deceptive advertising or promotions, which usually leaks from the “legal” content of the mailbox.
- Addressee. The email address of the person to whom the email will be sent.
- Affair. Space for a brief description of the message’s content, as an opening, that the receiver can read without having to open the mail completely.
- Message body. The written information that you want to convey.
- Attached files. The additional data that you want to transmit along with the message as attachments.
- CC / Bcc. Acronyms for Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy, they allow the sender the possibility of also sending an identical copy to a third user, either in a visible way for all (cc) or in an invisible way (bcc).
Advantages of email
The advantages of email over other written communication formats are:
- Speed. Data is transmitted almost immediately, and the risk of loss of information is minimal.
- Security. This is a debated topic (generally, it is privacy on the Internet). Still, email providers generally use powerful encryption mechanisms to shield their users’ data from third parties and information thieves.
- Attachment data. While there are computational limits to the size of the attached computer files that can be attached to an email, they are often large enough to send most of the personal documents that you want to share.
- Versatility. Our email may be used in any way we wish within a certain legal and procedural regulation framework.
- Low cost. Almost all email services today are completely free.
- Ecological. It does not use real paper and, therefore, does not produce waste, nor does it consume physical resources (beyond the electricity needed for Internet access).
- Global. We can check our email in any part of the globe, and send and receive messages from anyone in any corner of the planet.
Disadvantages of email
For its part, email has the following disadvantages compared to other modes of messaging:
- Lack of interactivity. Unlike chats and instant messaging services, emails must be read one at a time.
- It is relatively vulnerable. E-mail is a source of evidence that hackers and computer viruses can eventually access, for which they create trap emails and other forms of deception to access a careless user’s information.
- You need the Internet. In conditions of poor connectivity or countries with low Internet penetration, email is not a good option.
- You need some electronic devices. To access the email, we must have a computer, smartphone, or tablet, which means having electricity.