Here's What Gmail Looked Like In 2004, The Year Your Favorite Inbox Was Born

It's hard to remember a time before Gmail, when your email was sorted into varying states of disarray. But flash back to April 1, 2004, and you've got just that. Thankfully for those of us who cringe at the days of having to delete emails one by one after running out of storage, Google's email service, Gmail, was released 12 years ago. Gmail's anniversary shows how far we've come in the tech world, now giving users the industry standard for storage, speed, and one of the original forays into the mysterious Cloud.

Truth is, the April 1 launch date caused a stir within the tech community that Google did not necessarily anticipate. Gmail was originally dismissed as an email service, not because of its design or capabilities, but because it was free with 1,000 megabytes of storage. That had to be an April Fool's joke, no? It also didn't help that Google announced the new email service alongside job openings that were available on the moon. Georges Harik, former director of Google’s in-house startup, told Time's Harry McCracken that everyone in the tech community thought Gmail was a joke. "Journalists would call us and say, ‘We need to know if you’re just kidding, or if this is real,'" he said.

But as you know, Gmail was, in fact, not just some massive April Fool's joke. Instead, it turned into one of the biggest properties that we associate with the Internet king today.

The funny this is, there really isn't that big of a difference between the Gmail of 2004 and the one of today. Emails still line up the inbox in basically the same way, actions and folders are located to the left, and the search option skims the top. And in a tech world that is constantly evolving its interfaces, it's pretty remarkable that Gmail has been so consistent in its design. Perhaps it's simply because it works.

That isn't to say that Gmail hasn't gone through any changes. One of the largest was its 2011 release of the Gmail app, which was launched to mixed reviews. Updates have since rolled out year after year. And keeping up with the trend toward mobile, the email service released another update last month that better integrated Google's calendar system.

With its calendar, cloud system, and storage, Gmail has become such an integrated part of people's lives that it's easy to take it for granted. But with that great design has come some great functions (even all the way back in 2004). Happy Anniversary, Gmail!

Image: Google