Launched 20 years ago, Gmail was so amazing it was treated as a lie

Launched 20 years ago, Gmail was so amazing it was treated as a lie
Launched 20 years ago, Gmail was so amazing it was treated as a lie

This Monday, the 1st, Gmail celebrates 20 years with 1.8 billion active accounts, making it the most popular email service in the world.

During its development, the co-founders of GoogleLarry Page and Sergey Brin, followed the tradition of performing pranks on April Fools’ Day, such as opening a job vacancy on the Moon. So when Gmail was announced on April 1, 2004, offering a free gigabyte of storage, hundreds of times more space than competing services from Yahoo and Microsoft, the public was incredulous, believing it to be just another joke by the April Fools’ Day.

Gmail interface in 2004, when the service first went live. Photograph: Google/Reproduction

At that time, it was common for email services to offer approximately 5 megabytes of space, that is, 200 times less than Gmail. Today, the service offers 15 free gigabytes per account, shared with Google Photos and Google Drive.

According to the news agency Associated Pressreaders began to call and warn the outlet via email that they had fallen for a prank with the news about the launch of the service, such was the public’s disbelief at Google’s announcement.

On a Press release, Google announced Gmail as an alternative to the precariousness of email services at the time, with the idea that users would never again need to delete a message or rack their brains to find an old email. Competing services, such as Yahoo and Microsoft, were able to store approximately 60 emails at once, forcing the user to delete old messages. Gmail increased this limit to approximately 13,500 emails, which eliminated the need for constant inbox maintenance.

Making use of Google’s proprietary search tool, Gmail was also capable of finding old messages with unprecedented accuracy and speed when compared to services available at the time. Additionally, it automatically organized individual emails into “conversations”, making them easier to read, and automatically separated spam messages into a folder.

The advertisements that today “invade” the service’s inbox were already a problem at the beginning of Gmail, with sponsored links depending on the subject of the messages. The advertising model, however, was what made the service free, according to Google.

From April 1, 2004, the trial version of Gmail was made available to a small number of users, who could invite more people to use the service – a model also used in Orkut. The system, at the beginning, had capacity for only 10 thousand users. The shortage resulted in Gmail accounts selling for US$250 on eBay.

As Google made new servers available to the service, the company began to freely accept new users from February 14, 2007, on Valentine’s Day in the USA.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Launched years Gmail amazing treated lie



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