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Kicker: A new email is no joke

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WORLD Radio - Kicker: A new email is no joke

Gmail was launched on April Fool’s Day 20 years ago


Google co-founders Sergey Brin, left, and Larry Page at company headquarters, Jan.15, 2004 Associated Press/Photo by Ben Margot, File

NICK EICHER, HOST: Seems everybody has a Gmail account. But you know 20 short years ago, nobody did.

Except for Larry Page. Page and his Google cofounder had a flair for April Fool’s jokes. And on April 1st 2004 Gmail seemed like one of them.

But when AP reporter Michael Liedtke received an invite to have a look at a new product, there was Page in front of a laptop

MICHAEL LIEDTKE: And he said he wanted to show me something. And he did a demo for me of Gmail. And he kind of smiled and said, I think people are really gonna like this.

Yeah, no kiddin’.

But it came with a catch Milton Friedman could’ve seen a mile away—because there’s no free lunch, and no free email.

LIEDTKE: A computer was going to scan the contents of email, only to learn what a person was interested by the topics that they would talk about.

And serve up relevant ads.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: When a product is “free,” you’re the product.

EICHER: Or to rework Friedman: when you’re offered a free lunch, you’re on the menu.

It’s The World and Everything in It.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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