Ray Tomlinson, one of the early ARPAnet pioneers in the 1960s at engineering firm Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), died Saturday morning of a suspected heart attack. He was 74.Tomlinson was best known for choosing the @ symbol to indicate a message should be sent to a different computer on a network. He also led development of standards for the from, subject, and date fields found in every email message sent today.
He earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1963 and a master's in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965, where he worked on speech synthesis.
News of his death began circulating on a BBN alumni email list tonight. Another networking legend, TCP/IP inventor Vint Cerf, confirmed it via Twitter.
Tomlinson's death is the third passing of an MIT-educated computer industry legend this year. Artificial intelligence expert Marvin Minsky died in January, and personal computing innovator Wesley A. Clark died in February. Both were 88.
- Present at the 'e'-creation (CNET)
- Geek Trivia: Where the action is @ (TechRepublic)
- E-Mail's 'at' Sign Often Lost in Translation (CBS News)
- The Man Who Made You Put Away Your Pen (NPR)
Evan Koblentz began covering enterprise IT news during the dot-com boom times of the late 1990s. He recently published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers". He is director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 non-profit and can often be found running marathons or having deep conversations with Floppy Disk Cat.