For more than 1.5 billion Gmail users, the Gmail history has always been a mystery. How Google came up with the idea and how it knew what features were required in their future email service to capture a large market? Why they chose Paul as the creator of Gmail? How much time did it take until the first version of Gmail was rolled out?
These and many other questions will be answered in today’s post. What’s good about today is that today’s Gmail history session is a first-hand account of Gmail right from the Gmail’s creator Paul Buchheit.
In a recent interview, Paul revealed some interesting facts about how the Gmail project was ideated and then realized. So sit back and enjoy a good story of how Gmail came into being.
Early Gmail History
When asked about the early Gmail history, Paul recollected the days of the year 1996 when he first started thinking of a web-based email. This was 22 years ago; even before the very popular Hotmail. Although the idea was vague and the code written was very rough, Paul considers his college days as the time of Gmail’s inception.
For a long time, Gmail remained a side project for Paul; even a long time after him joining Google and working on another project called Google Groups. When the first version of Google Groups rolled out, it was only then that Paul’s managers asked him if he could work on a product that was “related to email”.
How and when the real work on Gmail started
It took some time for the Googlers to complete the Google Groups project. When the product managers at Google got a little free, they asked Paul if he wanted to build another product; and they gave him two “interesting areas” as options. One was the email and the other was some personalization product. With Gmail in the back of his mind, Paul instantly agreed to work on an email product.
Paul started from a little feature; a program that searched a specific email in the inbox. He spread this program.among his colleagues and they instantly sensed the usefulness. This was the moment when Paul got serious about Gmail.
Did Paul Face any Challenges?
The challenges were countless, according to Paul, but the biggest challenges were faced when the Gmail was built and rolled out to the public.
Since Google was seen as a Search thing, very few people were serious about an email product by them. Moreover, the features offered by Gmail were too good to believe for many. For example, Gmail offered 1 GB of space for every account in its first version; in a time when other email services were offering MBs of space and boasted about it.
The release date was also a big problem; it was the 1st of April and almost everyone considered Gmail as a joke. It took some time for Gmail to overcome these challenges and once they were dealt with, Gmail never looked back.