Disbelief at the reminder that Gmail was first announced on April 1, 2004 abounds. Can you believe that we once lived in a world where Gmail was not the dominant free webmail service? Can you believe it's been ten years? Can you believe you once had an "@excite.com" email address? (No, no, and no.)
Time today offers readers an "inside story" of the ubiquitous email service's launch, linking to the April 1, 2004 press announcement that many thought was an April Fool's joke (spoiler: it wasn't), mentioning email services since forgotten (Excite and Lycos, awww!), and quotes from the project leads, like these:
"A lot of people thought it was a very bad idea, from both a product and a strategic standpoint...The concern was this didn’t have anything to do with web search. Some were also concerned that this would cause other companies such as Microsoft to kill us."
"We weren’t going to plaster [Gmail] with banners...We committed to that from pretty early on."
"The ultimate April Fools’ joke was to launch something kind of crazy on April 1st and have it still exist on April 2nd."
One other long-forgotten fact: Gmail was invite-only until Valentine’s Day, 2007 (fortunately for SFist, we had Googler DeWitt Clinton as an early friend-of-the site, and he hooked us all up early on), which meant that for a time, invites went for as much as $150 on eBay.
And just think, now your Grandma has Gmail! A lot's changed in ten years.