How Bots Were Born From Spam

John Ohno
8 min readMay 6, 2016

The first commercial spam message was sent in 1994—at least that’s the general consensus. Lawrence Canter and Margaret Siegel had a program written that would post a copy of an advertisement for their law firm’s green card lottery paperwork service to every Usenet news group — about 6,000 of them.

Because of the way the messages were posted, Usenet clients couldn’t filter out duplicate copies, and users saw a…

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John Ohno

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net