Profile America: Spam

Spam, Hormel Products

Spam, Hormel Products

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 cyber-spam 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 Web. In April 1994, a pair of Arizona lawyers advertised their services to thousands of Usenet groups. 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 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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