This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

Mmmm, Chopped Pork Shouder

mpMarch 31, 1993:  Term “Spam” Coined

Mmmm, take some chopped pork shoulder meat, a little ham meat, some salt and potato starch with a touch of sodium nitrites packed in a sweet gelatinous glaze and what do you have?

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam…..

Joel Furr

Joel Furr


Although the etymological story of spam takes many twists and turns from the early days of BBS’s (Bulletin Board Systems) and chat rooms, Joel Furr generally gets the credit for being the first to call a spam, spam.

Back in the day, many USENET, chat room and BBS users, including Joel Furr were Monty Python fans. In their famous Spam Skit, a bunch of Vikings fill a restaurant with an unwanted and unrelenting chorus of  ♪ “Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!” ♫


There are earlier reports (unconfirmed of course) that the term migrated from earlier chat systems. Users wanting to annoy rivals by dumping the words to the entire Monty Python Spam Song into posts.

spam vintage-spam-ad

But on this day in 1993, Richard Depew posted some controversial ideas on moderating the USENET with software he was developing. Controversial because some saw this as censorship. He ran a post with his AARM software that had a bug in it and ended up posting 200 messages in a row to – news.admin.policy, a news group that discussed the running of the net. This really ticked people off, and Joel, as far as my research shows, was the first to “officially” call it spam.

Depew shortly afterward apologized for having “done a spam”, thus using and reinforcing the term himself.



Hormel Foods Corporation, the maker of Spam luncheon meat, does not object to the Internet use of the term “spamming”.  However, they did ask that the capitalized version “SPAM” be reserved to refer to their product and trademark.


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