The First Email Computer

The first email was sent between the two machines shown in this photograph. They were (obviously) side-by-side, but the only connection between them was through the ARPANET. In the foreground is BBN-TENEXA (BBNA for short). Host names in 1971 had no .com or dot anything; DNS came along later. BBNA was the machine on which the first email was received. In the background is BBN-TENEXB (BBNB) from which the first email was sent. On the left, foreground, is the Teletype KSR-33 terminal on which the first email was printed. Immediately behind and largely obscured is another KSR-33 on which the first email was typed.

KSR-33 printed first email KSR-33 printed first email First email typed in here First email typed in here BBNB sent the first email BBNA received the first email BBNA received the first email
bbna bbnb
Photograph courtesy of Dan Murphy

BBNA was a Digital Equipment Corporation KA10 (PDP-10) with 64K (36-bit) words of (real magnetic) core memory. In modern measure, that's 288 KBytes. BBNB was smaller with only 48K words. Both machines ran the TENEX time-sharing monitor.

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Hall of Fame First Email Computer