Google released Gmail on April Fools’ Day in 2004 & people thought it was a joke

Life is difficult to imagine without Gmail. It was on this day, April 1, 2004, that Google chose to introduce Gmail.

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Gmail's scanning of emails to create targeted ads, has been a topic for a lot of criticism in the past. (Reuters)

Life is difficult to imagine without Gmail. It was on this day, April 1, 2004, that Google chose to introduce Gmail. And just like the rest of us don’t believe any big news on the first of April, nobody did in 2004. A CNN report from 2004 says that Google claimed to have a storage limit of 1 Gigabyte. And it did not help that Google had developed a reputation for being a prankster in the tech community. The multi-billion dollar company had once stated that pigeons played the catalyst in its search technology and some other stuff like starting a research centre on the moon.

According to USA Today, despite Jonathan Rosenberg (vice president of the products group at Google)’s statement about being serious about the release, speculations were running high about how this was one of Google’s classic jokes. ON, which used to call itself a news service for geeks, had a poster which stated that this was going down as one of the biggest pranks ever pulled by anyone is history. Gmail was almost too good to be true. The email service had been advertised flash ads or image banner-free zone. All the ads Gmail had were relevant text messages. The promise of a 1GB free storage was unbelievably large by the normal 2004 standards.

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But even Gmail wasn’t free of legal troubles. Google used ads based on the contents of email messages and it drew more flak than Google had anticipated. While a few people thought that it was a direct invasion of privacy of the sender, few others felt that the recipient was having his/her rights violated. According to Time, people would see medicine ads next to suicidal texts. People had started talking about all the possible privacy invasions, like rumours on a dining table. Responding to the petitions and blogs against it, Google had released a statement saying that such misinformation had the potential to threaten legitimate and necessary consumer choices by means of legislation while taking away people’s attention from the actual inherent privacy issues.

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First published on: 01-04-2017 at 17:46 IST