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March 26, 2020

On 26 March 1976: HM Queen Elizabeth II Became the World’s First Monarch to Send an Email

While visiting the Royal Signals & Radar Establishment, HM Queen Elizabeth II sent her first email on 26 March 1976 – before the Internet was even invented.

The network she was using was called ARPANET; a precursor to the World Wide Web as we know it today. It was set up in 1969 and over the course of the following decade expanded to include networks in multiple locations across the world, all joined up to a larger network; a trans-Atlantic link connected networks in the US to networks in the UK and Norway.

British computer scientist Peter Kierstein – sometimes referred to as “the father of the European Internet” – was on hand to assist, and set The Queen up with her own email account on the network, and the username HME2 – standing for Her Majesty, Elizabeth II.

A diagram of the area network logical map.

The email she then sent was announcing the arrival of a new programming language that had been developed at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, and to that end may sound somewhat cryptic to the uninitiated:
This message to all ARPANET users announces the availability on ARPANET of the Coral 66 compiler provided by the GEC 4080 computer at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern, England. Coral 66 is the standard real-time high level language adopted by the Ministry of Defence.
The email was headed ‘A Message from Her Majesty the Queen’, and signed off with the delightfully informal ‘Elizabeth R.'

In 1983, the ARPANET became the first network to use the TCP/IP language which, to this day, is the set of rules that computers use to communicate with the Internet. Much like Queen Elizabeth II, the ARPANET was ahead of its time, and ended up playing a significant role in paving the way for a new era in modern communications.

(via True Royalty)


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