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"Unix machines have a command called write which can be used to send messages to other currently logged-in users."

This kind of implies that "write" was a precursor to e-mail, but that's not true. The very first Unix system I ever used (around 1980), Version 7 Unix from Bell Labs, already had a "mail" command which let you send e-mail to users on the same system. It kept your unread messages in a file called /usr/spool/mail/userid, and your saved messages in $HOME/mbox. "write" (or "wall", which wrote to all logged-in ttys) was only used to warn people that the machine was about to come down.

The first "mail" command that I'm aware of was for the MIT CTSS timesharing system, implemented in 1965:


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