Ray Tomlinson, the man credited with founding email, has passed away at the age of 74, according to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald. The article further states that the cause of his death was a sudden heart attack.

Tomlinson was a part a team of computer programmers at research and design company Bolt Beranek and Newman (now BBN Technologies) in Cambridge, Mass., and had begun experimenting with internal messaging in 1971. His main idea was to send a text message between computers using a new network, which was a predecessor to the Internet called Arpanet, routing it using an “@” symbol.

He recalled the first email sent, in an interview with NPR from 2009: “The keyboards were about 10 feet apart…I could wheel my chair from one to the other and type a message on one, and then go to the other, and then see what I had tried to send. The first e-mail is completely forgettable … and, therefore, forgotten,“.

It didn’t take long for the government and military personnel to adapt this system. By the 1980s, they were actively using it, while by 1990’s email, alongside the world wide web, had become one of two pillars of the budding consumer Internet.

Tomlinson was then inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012. He had also received the IEEE Internet award.

Furthermore, Tomlinson also told NPR that he had a feeling that what he had discovered with the “@” symbol would have some impact.

What I didn’t imagine was how quickly that would happen,” he said.

Can you recall the first e-mail you have ever sent? If you do, let us know in the comments below.