MCI Mail

I’ve been sitting on this domain for a couple years and today I’ve finally done something with it.

MCI Mail was the first publicly available email provider. Starting in 1983, anyone with a computer, an internet connection, and $35 could purchase a “mailbox”1 for sending and receiving Email. MCI also had a service where they would print out digital letters and send a paper copy to a specified physical address.

This feature is pretty cool. Because email wasn’t widely used at that point, they designed a feature that integrated into the much more widely used communication system: paper mail. That’s like if early phone companies offered a service that sent phone owners’ non-phone owning relatives a person to gossip on their behalf.

Recent attempts at this type of inter-media patching seem to have failed. Email notifications of facebook tags, slack messages etc. They largely don’t translate into another medium, they just tell you in one medium to go look at another medium to receive a message. Maybe the recent antitrust cases against facebook (and others) will lead to some cross-platform communication.

Back to MCI Mail.

You haven’t been able to get a _____@MCImail.com account since 2003, but I’ve gotten ahold of the domain MCImails.com (note the plural) and I’m now receiving mail at the address seen above.

I got the domain thinking I’d be communicating with old time telecommunication nerds who would spot the domain and smile while they wrote me back from their side of the screen, but I have no idea where I got that idea. I doubt I know more than 3 people who would even get the reference, and none of them have the time to look at the word written between the @ and the .com.

But if you’re reading this, you know. And now you can smile and email me.


1 Shannon, L.R. (November 9, 1993). “PERIPHERALS; MCI Mail Changes The Nature Of Letters”. New York Times