Yes, I’m the guy who invented spam. It was over 40 years ago, and I was a young superstar salesman pushing construction and mining equipment in California. One of the things we traveling salesmen did in the old days was to pass around pages of jokes. I’d put my name and phone number right in the middle, surrounded by jokes. Some pages were lists of dirty jokes, and some were more family-friendly. The concept of “political correctness” didn’t exist yet, so some of them were a bit rough. However, my buyers loved them and they got passed around, along with a quick sales blurb and my phone number. It was a low tech referral and lead generation system that produced results.
Then, one day, our office got a new electronic gizmo – a fax machine. We never saw anything like it and really wanted to play with it. However, very few companies had one yet. Every time another customer installed one, the fun started. I would send them a list of jokes and they would send me a job application for McDonald’s. It quickly got out of control. One popular image was ‘Whose buttocks are these?’
As fax machines became more common, the spam went from sending jokes to sending ads for toner and paper, and notifications from Nigerian Princes.
It got costly, because whenever you received a fax it printed out on expensive thermal paper. Or, if you had the new style machines it used toner and paper. Receiving a fax actually cost money, and the bosses were not happy about the spam.
Well, then personal computers came along, followed by e-mail, quickly followed by e-mail spam. I started sending my joke lists through e-mail. Initially, everyone thought it was fun. As computers got more high tech the spam got more obnoxious. Now, no one seems to be able to stop it.
When I retired from the corporate world, I started an online business at FAXtopia.com. We provide e-mail fax service. Thankfully, the fax spam is mostly gone now. I just wish the e-mail spam would go away too.
So, sorry folks, it’s all my fault. It was just such a great marketing tool at the time.