Profile America: Source Notes

Thursday, May 19 — Spam, the pork product in a can, debuted in 1937, and World War II spread its fame, such as it is, around the globe. Spam, the unsolicited email message, debuted this month in 1978, and the World Wide Web has spread its infamy everywhere. The first cyberspam was an invitation to a computer system demonstration sent to the few existing email addresses over ARPANET, the Internet’s precursor.

Almost 16 years later, commercial spam first coursed through the worldwide web. In April 1994, a pair of Arizona lawyers advertised their immigration assistance services to thousands of Usenet groups. The negative blowback crashed the hosting ISP servers. At the time, only about a quarter of U.S. households had personal computers. Now, over 85 percent are so equipped, and 80 percent access the Internet.

Profile America is beginning  its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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