Anniversary: 30 years ago, the first 'spam' was emailed


Several days ago, the 30th anniversary of spam came and went.

We're talking email, and not Spam, the food product. Anyway, I looked at quite a few articles that ran on the day of the anniversary May 3 or around then, like this story that originally appeared in The Washington Post, and I can't find any that quoted the man who began it all, Gary Thuerk. I was particularly interested in what he might have to say because I was lucky enough to interview him for Entrepreneur magazine during the 25th anniversary of spam.

At the time, I was getting more spam than I ever had in my life. I get a lot now, but in 2003, I was bombarded, and my computer was riddled with viruses and Trojan horses and other fun things. So when I was assigned to interview Thuerk, I had a lot of choice words prepared for him. I was going to light into him like a barbecue. I couldn't wait to pummel him with my gratitude for what he did on May 3, 1978, which is to be the first to send an unprompted email to a small but select number of people who had email, and he tried to sell these elite computer users, naturally, a new type of computer. I admit I wasn't thinking like a professional, but had made this personal. I wanted to do my best 60 Minutes Mike Wallace impression, and for Thuerk to fold like a house of cards and apologize for unleashing such a rotten practice into the world.