Celebrating the anniversary of the humble email attachment


Anyone in the UK thinking of getting their Christmas cards out extra early this year might have noticed that the price of a first class stamp is soon to go up from 46p to 60p at the end of April – so they had better hurry! It’s an unwelcome announcement for many but one that in this age of digitalisation, could hardly be seen as surprising. In our modern world it is common knowledge that the hand-written letter has largely been replaced by a quick email, an instant Facebook message or a cheeky tweet, and it makes perfect sense that the Royal Mail must put their prices up to survive. However, it’s also an ironic coincidence that this unpopular announcement of the rise in the cost of traditional postage coincided with the 20th anniversary of the invention of the ‘email attachment’. That is, the ‘free’ email attachment that made email more post-like, invented by Nathaniel Borenstein 20 years ago this month. At Rocketseed we think this is an anniversary in the history of email and a hero worth celebrating!

When the very first email attachment, compatible across most email programs was sent, people were of course sceptical, but the invention of the email attachment has since revolutionised modern communication. At the time, people didn’t understand that the ability to send photos, music, and other types of documents by email rather than relying on traditional postal systems would change the way we work today. When Borenstein first suggested that his dream was to email people pictures of his grandchildren, people laughed at him. But now (according to the Guardian article) ‘each day in 2012, we send around a trillion Mime* attachments’. The humble Email Attachment actually turned out to be one of the brilliant inventions of our time, providing businesses around the world with the means to operate faster and transfer information more efficiently. It also allowed Borenstein to fulfil his dream. It’s an inspiring idea!

At the start of Rocketseed in 2002, we also had a vision, developing new possibilities for employee email. Ten years ago, few individuals would have understood that an email could drive sales and web traffic for businesses, but this is now what we do for our clients every day. While social media plays its role, Borenstein also thinks that ‘email will always be the best way of contacting specific individuals’ and we tend to agree. But our favourite quote from the father of the email attachment is this. “Similarly, email, which some people say is dying, continues to grow. And most dying things don’t really do that.” At, Rocketseed, we’re positive that email is a growing medium (Check out Rocketseed Email 2.0 here) and one that businesses need to use to the best of their advantage, to promote their social media activity and drive sales.
p.s We’re sad to hear about the price of a postage stamp going up, but our other favourite quote of the day is from @Queen_UK who tweeted ‘60p is more than reasonable for a picture of your gracious and loving Queen’. Perhaps we should also create a nice email signature for Her Majesty.

*(the technical term for the standardisation system invented by Borenstein and his collaborator Ned Freed).’