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You’ve Got Mail

A photo from the 70s that shows an IBM personal computer sitting on a desk.

Where would we be without the internet and email? “Electronic mail” has become such an entrenched form of communication in our modern society, it’s hard to conceptualize office work in days before it existed. Obviously, over the course of APH’s long history, most of the work done at the company pre-dated all computer technology. I found it interesting (and admittedly somewhat amusing) when I found documents and other archival materials sharing information about this new form of communication and the introduction of APH’s first email address and web page.

I came across these documents while processing a collection that included a couple folders of Ex-Officio Trustee materials from the 1990s. The documents contained updates about annual meetings, staff appointments, and product information. But what really caught my attention were notes from 1995 announcing APH’s venture into email communication. Email had been around for a couple decades at this point, but it wasn’t widely used and adopted by the public until the late 1990s, so APH’s use in 1995 was fairly early:

June 26, 1995

APH Increases “Lines” of Communication

“Can we talk?” Sure! And e-mail provides another avenue for you to contact us. It’s a great way to leave a message for APH personnel and for us to respond to you. Our address on Internet is APH@IGLOU.COM. This sends your message into our “collective” e-mail. You need only indicate up front the person to whom the message is to be delivered.

Notably, APH had one email to be used for the whole company. It appears that these emails were printed out and delivered to the appropriate staff member. In a different archival collection, I came across one of these early emails to Gary Mudd, APH’s longtime former Vice President of Government and Community Affairs. On the printed email is a handwritten note to Gary that says, “This e-mail came for you!”

 

An email that reads "From Wed May 1 11:16:53 1996. Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 13:25:16 -0500 (CDT). From: OR Textbook/Media for VH. To: aph@iglou.com. Subject: APH Quota. To: Gary Mudd. Date: April 29, 1996. Subject: APH Allocation." A note in blue pen reads "This e-mail came for you!"

The following year, APH continued its commitment to technology by creating a homepage:

August 5, 1996

APH on the Internet

Earlier this spring, APH made its initial venture onto the Internet with a home page. Simultaneously, we formed an in-house task force charged with dreaming and designing a comprehensive APH Web Page and, eventually, a Web Site. While our web presence will represent all phases and areas of APH services, resources, and products, the responsibility for making this valuable tool come to life was assigned to the Department of Educational and Advisory Services. The actual coordination of the project will be done by Christine Anderson, Resources Services Manager.

The 90s saw a huge increase in websites, and APH was right in the middle of this technological revolution. Now in addition to individual email addresses for the staff and an extensive APH website, we also use a variety of social media which allows us to communicate across a broad range of virtual platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. And that’s not including what additional platforms are sure to pop up in the future. Technology seems to change at lightning speed so I can only imagine what our electronic communications will look like down the road, and how that technology will ultimately shape our office work. I’m sure whatever technologies lie ahead, APH will be on the forefront of those innovations too.

 

Mary Beth Williams is the Museum Collections Manager.

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