My oldest email

I ran across an interesting post regarding the font used in Woody Allen’s film titles. I briefly perused the blogger’s site, where he asked folks to post (on their own blog) the answer to the question:

How old is the oldest e-mail message stored on your computer?

For this I’m using the rule of email actually stored on my computer. I began using email in 1980, and started an old dialup BBS in (roughly) 1983. I certainly have emails from that vintage on old 5-1/4″ disks in the basement. Whether or not I could retrieve them is another question, but they’re not actually on my computer so they don’t count. It’s also likely some of these old messages are on hard copy, but again that doesn’t count.

The answer in my case is May 5, 1986. This is the oldest email stored in my small archive of VAXmail from college. It was an email from someone who worked at the college computer center, and who I helped with a student-produced play (I was on the stage crew, and at the last minute was asked to played a guy lost in the woods, a long story).

The oldest email from someone I’m still regularly in touch with is from January 27, 1987.

The oldest email that I sent which is still on my computer is from December 3, 1986.

The oldest email in my current email database (accessible via searching within mail.app) appears to be December 8, 1996. It appears this is when I began using Claris Emailer and moved away from pine or elm on my first ISP unix account. I’m not quite sure this is definitely the oldest as I have dozens of old folders organized by purpose, not date, and have no easy way to show all messages by date. But from memory, that’s a reasonable date for such a transition.

An interesting search.

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