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Geek Trivia: What unlikely entertainer owned the original version of Gmail?

There's a great deal of history and interest tied up in gmail.com -- which is interesting, considering Google's webmail service is the second free online email provider to reside at that domain.

In recent weeks Google has revamped the Gmail user interface. That's a big deal on several fronts, not least because Gmail is arguably Google's second-most popular consumer product, behind Google Search. Google currently estimates that over a quarter of a billion people use Gmail.

Moreover, the Gmail interface is one of two reasons the free webmail service was instantly popular upon its initial release in 2004. (The other reason was the then-unfathomable gigabyte of storage; observers assumed the storage limit -- and probably Gmail itself -- must have been one of Google's infamous April Fools' pranks). Gmail's so-called "conversation view" method to organize email reply strings was revolutionary amongst mainstream webmail products at the time, and remains perhaps the most compelling feature of the service.

Of course, when discussing reasons for trepidation surrounding Gmail product updates, you can't overlook Google Buzz. A rather ham-fisted attempt to emulate Twitter, Buzz also had the unwelcome side effect of publicizing much of every Gmail user's contact list by default. It was a glaring misstep that damaged Google's general reputation and -- due to its inexorable integration with the webmail service -- Gmail's standing, as well.

In light of these recent gaffes, it's sometimes easy to forget that, when it was first released, Gmail invites were in such high demand that an entire aftermarket cropped up on eBay, with Gmail access selling for $150 per account at the height of the boom.

All told, there's a great deal of history and interest tied up in gmail.com -- which is interesting, considering Google's webmail service is the second free online email provider to reside at that domain. A decidedly non-technical entertainment outfit debuted the original Gmail product, but they sold out when Google came calling for the domain.

WHAT UNLIKELY "ENTERTAINER" OWNED THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF GMAIL?

Get the answer.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

4 comments
seanferd
seanferd

I'll be Mr. Obvious and say the quibble is hiding behind the word "version". In the intra-title zone, you can replace "version" with "domain name". Elsewhere with (± similar) "name", trademark", or "domain name". That quibbleable material is too easily found, so maybe it's misdirection. What about the use of some form of "etymological" in the previous quibble and its antecedent article? Now I just feel pedantic, and not quibbly at all. Nothing debatable of note here. Maybe Waldo really is well hidden. :) Cool history of gmail. Still like Ansu's orthography-plus* chart, too. _ * Whatever you'd actually call this, I have no idea.

richard.s
richard.s

Next week when I venture to London's Silicon Roundabout (aka Tech City) I'll be wearing my G&R necktie: My usual protest about Google 'pinching' the GMail name. During the early 1990s, I had an account on the GMAIL X.400 messaging service provided by the Anglo-Norwegian company Gallagher & Robertson AS. (G&R) We had several useful products from G&R.

jdayman
jdayman

Ah. Gallagher & Robertson. Of course! I thought you were referring to the rock band Guns 'n Roses. "What? There's a Guns 'n Roses necktie?"