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The Edge.Email #26 – EMAIL was invented by a 14-year old in Newark

Welcome to the weekly newsletter from The Edge Group. The goal of each edition is to help you think differently about B2B content. If you know anyone who might enjoy this email, please have them sign up here.


1. DESIGN

We swear by Fabio Carneiro’s “1:1:1” rule: you should be able to effortlessly read an email with one eye, at one arm’s length, and properly navigate it with only one thumb (go ahead, try it with this newsletter).

In the spirit of responsive design, we also wanted to share this hilarious GQ piece that addresses the scourge of people screenshotting lengthy quotes and Apple Notes in social media posts, “You are killing me with your tiny fonts”.


2. EMAIL

Did you know EMAIL was (most likely) invented by a 14-year old kid in Newark?

A fascinating look at the history of email which manages to cover the evolution of software trademarking, the difference between a “computer sending an SMS” and an email, and an ensuing controversy that had others claiming the mantle of invention.

Bonus Email History fact: Aleks on our team taught me that Hotmail was originally written as HoTMaiL, to identify directly with HTML ( 🤯🤯🤯).


3. INFRASTRUCTURE

Vox wrote an intriguing piece on Alabaster, a new startup that designs “Bibles made for the Instagram Age”.

Our central purpose as a firm is working to make traditional containers of knowledge just a bit more accessible. However, we remain somewhat divided on where we stand on this (we were unified in cutting the line “is nothing sacred” from leading this section).


4. BRANDED CONTENT

Engagement brands would die for.

In today’s edition of old-school sponsored content, let us introduce you to theTexaco Star Theatre. It was a radio broadcast that successfully was translated to television in the 1940s, featuring Milton Berle at his prime. The show certainly was not shy about promoting the sponsor, and commanded such collective attention, at one point 61.6% of the 10 million families who owned televisions would tune in.

Note: this was discovered in Tim Wu’s fantastic book, The Attention Merchants. The first person to respond to this email will receive a copy.


5. SMS

Last week we brought you the underlying tech infrastructure of email. This week we’re following up with this highly technical look at what happens when you send a text message.


6. A NEWSLETTER

We spend hundreds of collective hours reading, studying and creating newsletters. To see a gallery of our favorites, and what makes them so good, go to TheEdge.Email. Each week we’ll recommend one of our favorites.

While most of you reading this are B2B-ish (maybe B2C-curious), there is much to be learned from Matt Rutledge. He was the founder of Woot, a site that offered one product a day at a significant discount. It went “early viral” (think mid-2000s) thanks to hilarious copywriting that would often disparage the products being sold.

The copy was the secret sauce that led to rapid growth, a sale to Amazon in 2010, and Rutledge leaving in 2012 to start a new thing. He’s since quietly been running meh.com, and the newsletter remains a joyful morning distraction. The subject lines, well, they are also a thing to behold.


7. A VIDEO

It’s true.