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Thirty years ago today, the first unsolicited commercial e-mail went out over the research network that was the Internet's predecessor - and the modern aggravation of spam was born.
That e-mail, sent to advertise a new machine from the now-defunct computer manufacturer Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), was swiftly and forcefully condemned by the tiny community of engineers developing the Arpanet, or Advanced Research Projects Agency network, named after the Defense Department office that funded the project.
"It was rather an insult to one's sensibilities to have an obvious commercial message sent out over a research network," said computer scientist Peter Neumann of SRI in Menlo Park, who was one of the 393 recipients of that primordial spam.
But the Arpanet was small and tightly controlled by defense and think-tank scientists like Neumann, and this early e-mail i