Happy 35th birthday email, you've changed our lives

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On August 30th 1982, Dr VA Shiva filed the first copyright for an email system. That means email turns 35 today, but though it's all grown up it's proved to be a bit of a problem child.

A new survey released to coincide with the anniversary by Edison Software, makers of an AI mail app, finds that email has grabbed a dominant role in many of our lives and this shows no signs of abating.

The study shows that 74 percent of Americans feel overwhelmed by the number and frequency of emails they receive. What's more, nearly half (44 percent) of the nation is worried about missing an important email due to message overload. Nearly all US adults (87 percent) have taken steps to manage this problem -- 73 percent saying they have unsubscribed from unwanted email, while almost half (44 percent) admit they have spent hours deleting emails they don’t want.

The volume of messages is a big part of the problem, 32 percent of respondents say they receive up to 100 emails per day, and 33 percent say they feel stressed when they receive too many messages. The person they are most concerned about missing an email from is a co-worker or professional contact, followed by a family member, their boss, a friend, and their significant other.

Although newer technologies like SMS and chat systems such as Slack have long promised to change the way we communicate in the workplace, email is still the preferred method for 35 percent, while 39 percent will text and only five percent use chat apps.

Increasingly we access email via mobile devices and this means that it has even more of an impact on our lives. Most of the US (85 percent) is using a mobile phone to access email -- 43 percent on iOS and 42 percent on Android. This means Americans now read and respond to important emails in a variety of different places throughout their day. These include in bed (41 percent), while eating (39 percent), in the bathroom (24 percent), and while spending time with their significant other (21 percent). Seven percent will respond to important emails while spending time with their children and, worryingly, five percent will respond while drunk and three percent while driving -- hopefully not at the same time.

You can read more about the results and take a look back at email's development over the last 35 years on the Edison blog.

Photo Credit: Elena Schweitzer/Shutterstock

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