BBC Radio 6’s Steve Lamacq asked listeners for memories of their 1990s email addresses. One listener, a Kate Bush fan said her address had included, “itsmecathy, from Kate Bush’s song Wuthering Heights. It had led people to mistakenly assume her own name was Cathy, when it was Clare.
Clare was lucky to be able to choose her own address. Going online in February 1997, paying a monthly subscription to a service provider, a company in the United States, the address was the easily forgettable firstname.lastname@example.org. There was some provision to personalise it, but a personalised email address seemed to smack of trivia in times when email was a strictly serious matter.
By 1999, the idea of paying for email seemed silly. Ocean Telecommunications, an Irish subsidiary of British Telecom, offered free addresses. The Oceanfree address continued to appear in church directories for another two decades, it caught all the ecclesiastical junk.
The inbox, which was perhaps only 2 Mb, quickly filled up. Ocean had a sister company, Ireland Online, and another was opened to take the stress from the Oceanfree box. Neither of the BT companies, however, offered the bells and whistles of Hotmail, so a third account was opened, more to be used for messaging than mail.
By 2005, Gmail was established. Joining was by invitation, but there were websites where one could go to request an invite. A nice person in Asia, who had sent hundreds of invitations, sent me the necessary link and what remains my principle email account was opened. The following year, an Eircom telephone account brought an Eircom email address. The connection and address were desirable in ordering goods online from companies who preferred clients to have fixed line telephone accounts, so as to be easily traceable.
In 2007 came the sixth email address. This blog was given a new address on a new server and the move brought an email address based on the blog name. Six optional email addresses should have been more than enough, particularly as only three were active, but a Vodafone billpay account in 2010 brought with it a Vodafone email address, which has never been used for anything; and in 2012, opening a Flickr account meant having a Yahoo address. There seem to be two Apple email address associated with my iPhone, to which Apple send emails with offers of things I do not want to buy.
Recent months have brought three more email addresses, two for school and one for university. So now there is Gmail, Oceanfree, Yahoo, iCloud, three addresses in connection with my teacher training, plus the Vodafone one – eight email accounts, plus the address for here – that’s nine.
Who needs nine email accounts? 106522.740 seems a very simple thing to remember