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.

If you owned an @gmail.com mail address prior to 2004, there's a pretty high probability that you were a big fan of the comic strip Garfield by Jim Davis. The Garfield.com online version of the world-famous newspaper comic once offered a free Garfield-branded webmail service at gmail.com.

Little record of this service survives (we couldn't even track down a screenshot), but the gmail.com domain was registered in 1995 -- before Google or Google.com even existed. The complete domain ownership record is private, but Gmail was held by Garfield.com's owners up until Google bought it in 2004. After Google's Gmail purchase, Garfield fans were routed to e-garfield.com for their lasagna-loving cartoon cat-based free webmail needs.

This isn't the only domain issue that Google has had to work around for Gmail. A German company, Giersch Ventures, owned a trademark for G-mail, which forced Google to offer German customers googlemail.com webmail addresses.

Perhaps these minor complications are why, in June of 2005, Google changed Gmail's canonical URL from http://gmail.google.com/gmail/ to http://mail.google.com/mail/. Wherever you find it, Gmail has survived these issues and more to remain the most sought-after free webmail service on the planet.

That's not just some POP3-popping staying-power, it's an IMAP-compatible instance of Geek Trivia.

The quibble of the week

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from our assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

Get the quibble.


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...


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.


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.


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?"

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