How a one person stopped all email communication by accident as a new employee in the 90s.
The Great Email Cloggage Incident of 1998
Back in the 1990’s email was a rare and new communication tool and the technology behind it was archaic compared to today. Imagine there was just a single server back then handing all of the email for a large company. The email was managed using then Lotus Notes on what was a state of the art network bandwidth back then, but also in contrast to today it was super prehistoric about on par with a shared ISDN line.
So this new employee joined the company and lives 20 miles from the main office. This new employee loved his work and was up late and up early working on new projects and on this one faithful morning he didn't have a floppy disk to write out the file he had been working on and needed to take it to the office. This file was a mere 25MB. So this new employee figured, why not email it to themselves before they leave this morning to commute into the office and it will be waiting for me when they arrive at work.
The employee arrived at the office after a long over hour commute as the traffic in the North Bay of San Francisco could be brutal and slow as everyone in the North Bay was all driving into San Francisco.
The employee logged into their computer and, weird no email at all. There was no email until almost 4 hours later. Other employees began discussing the lack of email in morning meetings and in the halls over coffee. Hrmm so weird, no email…
Around noon, an email was sent out from the IT department. It mentioned the “outage” or “clogged email server” and how someone had sent a large file attachment which had clogged the email server. Apparently the server handled one email and attachment at a time.
I receive hundreds of email some days, and I am so thankful that email architecture and file attachment sizes have increased to prevent unnecessary cloggage or embarrassment.