Gmail's home page as it looked on March 31, 2004, shortly before the service launched. Skizzers.org
How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story Of Its Launch 10 Years Ago Today -- Time
Google's email breakthrough was almost three years in the making. But it wasn't a given that it would reach the public at all
If you wanted to pick a single date to mark the beginning of the modern era of the web, you could do a lot worse than choosing Thursday, April 1, 2004, the day Gmail launched.
Scuttlebutt that Google was about to offer a free email service had leaked out the day before: Here’s John Markoff of the New York Times reporting on it at the time. But the idea of the search kingpin doing email was still startling, and the alleged storage capacity of 1GB—500 times what Microsoft’s Hotmail offered—seemed downright implausible. So when Google issued a press release date-stamped April 1, an awful lot of people briefly took it to be a really good hoax. (Including me.)
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My Comment: I am still a Hotmail user .... but I also use a GMail account. But if given the choice .... I will take GMail.