Ars Technica: How Hotmail changed Microsoft (and email) forever

A good read for us old people: How Hotmail changed Microsoft (and email) forever. “Twenty years ago this week, on December 29, 1997, Bill Gates bought Microsoft a $450 million late Christmas present: a Sunnyvale-based outfit called Hotmail. With the buy—the largest all-cash Internet startup purchase of its day—Microsoft plunged into the nascent world of Web-based email. Originally launched in 1996 by Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia as ‘HoTMaiL’ (referencing HTML, the language of the World Wide Web), Hotmail was initially folded into Microsoft’s MSN online service. Mistakes were made. Many dollars were spent. Branding was changed. Spam became legion. Many, many horrendous email signatures were spawned.”

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