Spam with everything

One of the delights of coming back to the office, after what for many people has been a lovely extended Christmas break, is the joy you can find in playing a game I call, find the genuine email.

It seems that, at the end of the year, all the world takes a break apart from the spammers, leaving you to come back to an inbox filled with ‘Natural Viagra’ offers, the chance to work at home for more money than you’re currently getting and, of course, the opportunity to view entertainments of an adult nature.

Spam is of course the direct descendant of junk mail, and is probably viewed as the black sheep of the family. Whereas with junk mail there was the need for at least some investment in the mail piece itself and delivery or postage, nowadays, with spam the barriers to entry are so low that a limbo dancing dwarf would probably bang his head on them.

Spam is not a new phenomenon, with the first electronically transmitted junk mail (in this case a telegram,) being received by the lucky recipient in 1904.

Commercial spamming, however, really got going on March 5, 1994, when a pair of lawyers, Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, began using bulk Usenet posting to advertise immigration law services. The incident was commonly termed the "Green Card spam", after the subject line of the postings.

The two went on to widely promote spamming as a new means of advertisement - over the objections of Internet users who they labeled "anti-commerce radicals."

We of course have Monty Python to thank for the term spam, originating as it does from the sketch of the same name. The idea being that no matter what you order, it will come with spam.

The horrible truth is, of course, that for many spammers, crime does pay and it is likely that our emails will continue to be served with side orders of spam for the foreseeable future.