Take heed, because there’s a lot of bad stuff out there on the internet today. But there’s one thing that’s very good and useful: it’s Gmail, and today your favourite email service is celebrating its 10th birthday.
According to Wikipedia, Gmail was launched on 1 April 2004. At the time, it was an invitation-only beta product. The funny thing is that Google announced Google Moon Base (its actual April Fool’s prank) the same day, and at first no one was sure which was real. Obviously, we all figured it out, and on 7 February 2007, Google opened Gmail up to the general public.
Although it was still in beta, it was already hugely popular thanks to the massive amount of storage it offered for zero dollars. At the beginning, it gave you a whole gigabyte of storage, which seemed like a lot compared to the 2MB to 4MB you could get from Hotmail. The interface was also more friendly to users -- it was searchable, things were laid out in a conversation view, similar to chatrooms that were still popular at the time, and attachments could be up to 25MB large.
Here's what it looked like a decade ago, via GoogleSystems Blog:
It's surprisingly consistent to the Gmail we used today, although things like tabs and Gchat didn't come until later. You can see a graphic depicting Gmail's evolution here. By 2012, Gmail had become the most popular email service (more than 425 million users and counting) on the web.
So as you wade through a sea of bad pranks today, remember that Gmail isn't just one of Google's biggest hits -- it's also the good April Fool's Day joke it's ever pulled. [h/t @therealfitz]