Google started Gmail on April 1, 2004. Google

Ten years ago today, many Internet users did not realize what an integral part of their lives the Web mail service Gmail would become. Today, many users freak out without direct access to their Gmail account.

Gmail was launched as an invitation-only beta on April 1, 2004, and has stayed the course while many once popular email platforms have faltered. Gmail increased in popularity when it became available to the general public in February 2007, while still in beta mode. In July 2009, Gmail upgraded from beta status.

Since its inception, Gmail has gone from providing users with 1GB of memory to now providing 15GB of memory; even with hundreds or thousands of archived emails, most users have to work quite hard to put a dent in their allotted memory.

Gmail circa 2004. Kevin Fox

During its development in the mid- to late 1990s, critics scoffed at Google’s use of JavaScript for Gmail’s code. At the time, other webmail services, such as Hotmail and Yahoo, were crafted from plain HTML. While it was the standard, HTML came with numerous limitations. Google used JavaScript to implement such features as the auto-completion of contacts, which today is a commonplace feature on many communication based services.

Google selected April 1 to launch Gmail with the intention that people would consider it an April Fools’ Day prank. Gmail’s first product manager, Brian Rakowski, told Time magazine that developers considered it the “The ultimate April Fools’ joke” to have this “crazy” endeavor still exist on April 2. Soon after, the Internet was a buzz about Gmail, with people bidding up to $150 on eBay for Gmail invites, in order to be a part of the exclusive beta club.

Today, Gmail celebrates April Fools’ Day and its tenth birthday with its “Gmail Selfie” feature, which allows users to send selfies to other users in order for them to set the image as their background. In a gallery of sample selfies are two photos commemorating Gmail’s tenth anniversary.

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