How Gmail Happened


Tue, Apr 1st, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Ten years ago today, Google announced Gmail, offering a whopping 1 GB of storage data. Being April 1st, nobody took it seriously, yet, once people realised it was no hoax, Gmail "turned out to be real, and revolutionary," while kicking off "a conversation about online privacy that continues on to this day."

At first, Buchheit’s email search engine ran on a server at his own desk. When he sought feedback from other engineers, their main input was that it should search their mail, too. Soon, it did.

The fact that Gmail began with a search feature that was far better than anything offered by the major email services profoundly shaped its character. If it had merely matched Hotmail’s capacity, it wouldn’t have needed industrial-strength search. It’s tough, after all, to lose anything when all you’ve got is a couple of megabytes of space.

But serious search practically begged for serious storage: It opened up the possibility of keeping all of your email, forever, rather than deleting it frantically to stay under your limit. That led to the eventual decision to give each user 1GB of space, a figure Google settled on after considering capacities that were generous but not preposterous, such as 100MB.



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