An Email Address is a string of characters which is used to identify an Internet Mailbox, where messages can be sent to be stored while a person (or computer) is not actively online.
Email Addresses are usually identified by the "at" symbol in them: @
The basic format of an email address is:
Some examples of email addresses are:
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
To send and receive email, two Internet Protocols are used:
Sending email was developed using a similar model to sending a letter via post: Anyone can drop a letter in the mailbox and send it to any other address.
However, this model breaks down because sending a letter via post actually costs money (currently $0.42 in the United States) while sending email costs virtually nothing.
Because of the cost of sending email is effectively zero, this has led to a preponderance of Unsolicited Email, or Email Spam. This has become such a nuisance that an entire industry has developed to deal with Email Spam.
Receiving email at a particular email address requires Authentication, and is often used as a form of authentication on the internet.
When email was first developed, it required an email program which supported the above protocols to send and receive email. The original email programs were:
- Mozilla Thunderbird
- Outlook Express
- Eudora Mail
- Opera Mail
- Netscape Mail
- Blitzmail from Dartmouth College
Free Online Email Services
At the advent of the internet in the mid-1990s, the development of 100% web-based email took off, and many companies offering purely web-based email. Today, there are hundreds of free email services available.