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Launched 20 years ago, Gmail was so amazing that it was treated like a lie

Launched 20 years ago, Gmail was so amazing that it was treated like a lie

On the first Monday of this year, Gmail celebrates 20 years with 1.8 billion active accounts, making it the most popular email service in the world.

During its development, the co-founders of GoogleLarry Page and Sergey Brin followed the tradition of performing pranks on April Fools' Day, such as Fatah Job vacancy on the moon. So when Gmail was announced on April 1, 2004, offering 1GB of free storage, hundreds of times more space than competing services from Yahoo and Microsoft, the public was skeptical and thought it was just another April Fool's Day prank.

At the time, it was common for email services to provide approximately 5MB of space, 200 times less than Gmail. Today, the service offers 15 GB free per account, shared with Google Photos and Google Drive.

According to the news agency News agencyreaders began calling and warning the outlet via email that they had been caught up in the news about the service's launch, such was the public's disbelief at Google's announcement.


on press releaseGoogle advertised Gmail as an alternative to the unstable email services of the time, with the idea that users would never again need to delete a message or rack their brains to find an old email. Competing services, such as Yahoo and Microsoft, were able to store approximately 60 email messages at a time, forcing the user to delete old messages. Gmail has increased this limit to approximately 13,500 emails, eliminating the need for constant inbox maintenance.

Using Google's search tool, Gmail was also able to find old messages with unprecedented accuracy and speed compared to services available at the time. Additionally, it automatically organizes individual emails into “conversations,” making them easier to read, and automatically separates spam messages into a folder.

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Advertisements that today “invade” the service's inbox were already a problem at the beginning of Gmail, where advertising links were based on message subjects. However, the advertising model is what made the service free, according to Google.

As of April 1, 2004, the beta version of Gmail was made available to a small number of users, who could invite more people to use the service – a model also used at Orkut. The system initially had a capacity of only 10,000 users. The shortage has led to Gmail accounts being sold for $250 on eBay.

When Google provisioned new servers for the service, the company began freely accepting new users as of February 14, 2007, Valentine's Day in the USA.