E-mail has changed the world and has had a tremendous effect on business. It is used to both communicate internally with other employees and externally with customers. The invention of email has also brought other innovative products like VoIP to the business market. E-mail allows businesses from around the world to communicate instantly.


According to Net History the first email messaging began in the early 1960s. At the time messages could only be sent to users of the same computer. However, in the '70s, when computers began to work on networks, the current email system began and Ray Tomlinson was credited with selecting the @ symbol to indicate addresses or location of the email recipients. Soon email was being used extensively both in universities and in military communications.


Businesses began to use email soon after the military and educational systems began using email. It was easily adopted because of its simplicity, speed and extreme low cost. It was perfect for businesses that had international branches and became a cost effective way of scheduling information, verifying shipments and confirming transactions.


As e-mail was used more frequently, marketers saw an opportunity to send advertising to both business users and end consumers. By the mid-1990s email started to experience serious issues caused by the immense amount of spam and virus-infected email being sent to business users. The spam issue became such a nuisance that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission passed the 2003 CAN-SPAM act, which controlled the problem to some degree, and specified that advertising spam must be identified as such and cannot be misleading.

Business Use and Misuse

Although email and its derivative products have greatly benefited the business world by allowing employees to address customers' issues, make continual updates on projects and help verify every business transaction, it has also brought a few issues. Employees tend to misuse the availability of email and spend work time answering personal email or chatting online. As a result many businesses have set policies that regulate employees' use of email and some businesses state that they will read an employee's email to prevent misuse. However, in most business settings, management simply expects email to avoid controversy and follow company policy.