Happy Spamiversary to You

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Quick! Where on the Internet were you on April 13, 1994?

Many of you are probably saying “Dude, I hadn’t even heard of the Internet in 1994! Had Al Gore invented it yet?”

Others of you, however, will remember that date, exactly 10 years ago today, as being the day that Canter and Siegel unleashed their flood of Green Card spam on an unsuspecting Internet.

While arguably not the first spam ever sent (that dubious honour has been attributed to, among others, Canter and Siegal, a DEC marketing rep who sent email to every Arpanet address on the west coast, and a chimp named Maury hawking generic vacuum tubes and herbal punch cards from Canada), the Green Card spam is unquestionably the event which sticks in our collective consciousness as the first problem Spam, with a capital ‘S’. (Proving, once again, that old adage that 95% of the lawyers out there give the other 5% of us a bad name.)

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Of course, that was Usenet, this is now. The picture is much different now, but the bottom line is the same: it’s about people sending massive amounts of dreck, spreading it around as wide as they can, on the theory that if you throw enough mud up against the ceiling, some of it is bound to stick.

And you know what? It does. Amazingly, people buy herbal viagra and weight loss products from spam, people give deposed Nigerian leaders money, and, by gum, I’m sure that some people paid Canter & Siegal to do what they could have done for themselves for the cost of a postcard and stamp.

Call it morbid curiousity, but I’d like to know how many.

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