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Raymond Tomlinson, the inventor of modern email and a technological leader, has died, his employer said Sunday. Tomlinson died Saturday, the Raytheon Co. said; the details were not immediately available. Email existed in a limited capacity before Tomlinson in that electronic messages could be shared amid multiple people within a limited framework. But until his invention in 1971 of the first network person-to-person email, there was no way to send something to a specific person at a specific address. Tomlinson wrote and sent the first email on the ARPANET system, a computer network that was created for the U.S. government that is considered a precursor to the Internet. Tomlinson also contributed to the network's development, among numerous other pioneering technologies in the programming world.
Well, Tomlinson told the Verge, the telephone was fine, "but someone had to be there to receive the call." No voicemail back then; there were few answering machines and people who could afford it subscribed to answering services. "Everyone latched onto the idea that you could leave messages on the computer," he said. "As the network grew and the growth of all that accelerated, it became a really useful tool: there were millions of people you could potentially reach."