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This Is The Story Of How Gmail Went From Closed Beta To Public phenomenon

April 1, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz

Many of you may not remember, but Gmail wasn’t always so popular. It also wasn’t always meant for the wide range of general public. Once decided though that Google wanted to share the joys of Gmail with everyone, it entered a closed beta and well… the rest is history as they say. Fast forward to today and Gmail is probably one of if not the most widely used email service. Interested in knowing how Gmail came to be and ended up as one of the most commonly used services of people on the web? Good. Because we were too and we want to share the story. As I said, Gmail wasn’t always meant for the general public. However today marks the 10th anniversary of Gmail’s launch, and it’s quite interesting to think that most people saw this as a simple April Fools joke back then.

Gmail has seen a wide range of changes since it all began, launching it into the upper echelon of email powerhouses that we know and use in today’s day and age, but we shouldn’t forget it’s humble beginnings. Gmail for those of you who don’t know, actually started with search, or rather with a search feature, which if you think about it is kind of ironic given the nature of Google’s main service offered, which to this day is web searches. Gmail’s creator, Paul Bucheeit, began work on Gmail in 2001 but had previously attempted a web email service years earlier in 1996. Drawing from his experiences over the years, and gathering feedback from fellow engineers at Google who suggested that Gmail incorporate searching emails into its list of features and functionality, giving users the capability to search within their own email inbox to find specific content that they might have forgotten about, built Gmail with the idea that it could allow users to virtually keep their emails forever, and finding old mail by searching for it. This coupled with the decision to give users a large amount of space for storing emails made Gmail one of the most revolutionary web mail services at the time, and it still continues to innovate with fun and exciting new features.

Even Gmail’s design and look on a user based personal level has come a long way, offering things like the infamous Shelfie theme users can apply to their Gmail inbox as part of the April Fools set of gags this year. Gmail didn’t always look like this though. You didn’t always have the option for things like themes. just like most other web mail services, it had a basic design to it that had just the right amount of Googleyness, which we can thank Kevin Fox for,(Gmail’s designer)who was a new Google employee at the time. Gmail was finally launched in 2004, and Google had in fact methodically selected April 1st as the date to announce the release of Gmail to the public, because they knew that it would lead some people to believe it was just another one of their April Fools Day pranks. The jokes started for Google in 2000(Y2k as we might fondly remember), which is why they had a good idea that people would claim the Google email service as a fallacy. The date wasn’t the only factor which played into this theory, as the amount of storage space also had a small role to play, since 1GB of storage space for any email service at the time was unheard of. However, Gmail to much of the public dismay was not a prank, and now it is the proverbial champion among similar services. How do you use Gmail? Do you keep your inbox relatively clean or do you let things go on and on and on until the end of time?

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