Updated: 8:29 PM UTC, Jul 16, 2017

Why Do We Say Spam In Electronic Communications?

Spam is a brand of several canned precooked Spicy Ham made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. It's widely believed the term SPAM was derived from the 1970 SPAM sketch from Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

More info by Wikipedia
According to the Internet Society and other sources, the term spam is derived from the 1970 Spam sketch of the BBC television comedy series Monty Python's Flying Circus. The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes Spam canned luncheon meat. As the waiter recites the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam... lovely Spam! wonderful Spam!", hence "Spamming" the dialogue. The excessive amount of Spam mentioned in the sketch is a reference to the preponderance of imported canned meat products in the United Kingdom, particularly a brand of tinned pork and ham (SPAM) from the USA, in the years after World War II, as the country struggled to rebuild its agricultural base. Spam captured a large slice of the British market within lower economic classes and became a byword among British children of the 1960s for low-grade fodder due to its commonality, monotonous taste and cheap price — hence the humour of the Python sketch.

In the 1980s the term was adopted to describe certain abusive users who frequented BBSs and MUDs, who would repeat "Spam" a huge number of times to scroll other users' text off the screen. In early chat rooms services like PeopleLink and the early days of Online America (later known as America Online or AOL), they actually flooded the screen with quotes from the Monty Python Spam sketch. With internet connections over phone lines, typically running at 1200 or even 300 bit/s, it could take an enormous amount of time for a spammy logo, drawn in ASCII art to scroll to completion on a viewer's terminal. Sending an irritating, large, meaningless block of text in this way was called spamming. This was used as a tactic by insiders of a group that wanted to drive newcomers out of the room so the usual conversation could continue. It was also used to prevent members of rival groups from chatting—for instance, Star Wars fans often invaded Star Trek chat rooms, filling the space with blocks of text until the Star Trek fans left. This act, previously called flooding or trashing, came to be known as spamming. The term was soon applied to a large amount of text broadcast by many users.

It later came to be used on Usenet to mean excessive multiple posting—the repeated posting of the same message. The unwanted message would appear in many if not all newsgroups, just as Spam appeared in nearly all the menu items in the Monty Python sketch. The first usage of this sense was by Joel Furr in the aftermath of the ARMM incident of March 31, 1993, in which a piece of experimental software released dozens of recursive messages onto the news.admin.policy newsgroup. This use had also become established—to spam Usenet was flooding newsgroups with junk messages. The word was also attributed to the flood of "Make Money Fast" messages that clogged many newsgroups during the 1990s. In 1998, the New Oxford Dictionary of English, which had previously only defined "spam" in relation to the trademarked food product, added a second definition to its entry for "spam": "Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of newsgroups or users."

There was also an effort to differentiate between types of newsgroup spam. Messages which were crossposted to too many newsgroups at once - as opposed to those that were posted too frequently - were called velveeta (after a cheese product). But this term didn't persist.

Media

Spam - Monty Python's The Flying Circus

You Might Also Like

Write a comment...
awesome comments!