Gmail continues to define email 15 years on

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, arrives to meet France's President Emmanuel Macron after the "Tech for Good" Summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday, May 23, 2018. French President Emmanuel Macron seeks to persuade Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other internet giants to discuss tax and data protection issues at a Paris meeting set to focus on how they could use their global influence for the public good. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Today is April 1st, a day for pranks and corny jokes. One of the biggest culprits is Google, which comes up with a hoax every year (remember YouTube Snoopavision or Google Play for Pets?).

But on April 1st, 2004, Google debuted a product that was decidedly not a joke: Gmail. It was a service that revolutionized web mail, so much so that it has become an integral part of our daily lives.

Gmail began as invite-only, to the point where invitations were actually bought and sold on eBay as if they were some sort of precious commodity. Invitations would remain the sole way of signing up for the service until 2007.

While webmail services like Hotmail and Yahoo Mail existed back then, Gmail had a killer selling point: a gigabyte of free storage. We might laugh at that now, but that was a huge amount of space at the time. (Google now offers 15GB standard, with the option to purchase more.) The thought of never having to delete or manage your email ever again was, and still is, an enticing one.

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