I’ve been using the popular Google email service, Gmail, for fourteen years. I was an early adopter.

Back on those early days, email users often missed emails because inboxes could fill up. The most popular service at the time, Microsoft’s Hotmail, offered a paltry 2 megabytes of storage space. Gmail tantelized users with a whopping 1 GIGABYTE of data, or 500 times the amount of space!

Today anybody can sign up for a free Gmail account, but back in 2004 Gmail was still in beta and only available with an invite. Those who were fortunate to have Gmail were occasionally given an invite they could give to a friend. I didn’t know anybody with a spare invite, so instead purchased my invite from a stranger. On Ebay. For $6. Yes, I am probably the only person you’ve heard of who purchased Gmail on Ebay. But that’s how it was back then.

My welcome email from Google

Sat, Jun 19, 2004 at 2:29 PM
Subject: Gmail is different. Here’s what you need to know.

First off, welcome. And thanks for agreeing to help us test Gmail. By now you probably know the key ways in which Gmail differs from traditional webmail services. Searching instead of filing. A free gigabyte of storage. Messages displayed in context as conversations.

So what else is new?

Gmail has many other special features that will become apparent as you use your account. You’ll find answers to most of your questions in our searchable help section, which includes a Getting Started guide. You’ll find information there on such topics as:

  • How to use address auto-complete
  • Setting up filters for incoming mail
  • Using advanced search options

You may also have noticed some text ads or related links to the right of this message. They’re placed there in the same way that ads are placed alongside Google search results and, through our AdSense program, on content pages across the web. The matching of ads to content in your Gmail messages is performed entirely by computers; never by people. Because the ads and links are matched to information that is of interest to you, we hope you’ll find them relevant and useful.

You’re one of the very first people to use Gmail. Your input will help determine how it evolves, so we encourage you to send your feedback, suggestions and questions to us. But mostly, we hope you’ll enjoy experimenting with Google’s approach to email.

Speedy Delivery,

The Gmail Team

p.s. You can sign in to your account any time by visiting http://gmail.google.com