As in, the Meat?

Where did the name "spam" come from? See Templetons.com to find out!

Most of us get spam every day. Some of us get a little, and some of us get a lot, but if you have an e-mail account it is always there. For example, this morning, here's one that came to my inbox:

Subject: Adobe Suppose we tell you that you could really lose up to 82% of your unwanted body fat and keep it off in just a few months, would you be interested? We certainly hope so! Please visit our web site - Click here!

Obviously this is spam, yet it made it through the spam filters and I opened it because the subject line made it unknowable whether it was spam or not. ­

Spam is incredibly annoying, especially in large quantities. If you have a public e-mail address you can receive hundreds of spam messages for every legitimate message that arrives. Even with good filters, some of the spam makes it through. And filters can sometimes delete messages that you really do want to receive. Spam is free speech run amok. ­

­ Where does all of this spam e-mail (also known as "unsolicited commercial e-mail") come from? Why is there so much of it? Is there any way to stop it? In this article, we will answer these questions and many others as we take a dive into the sea of spam.

Spam is a huge problem for anyone who gets e-mail. According to Business Week magazine:

In a single day in May [2003], No. 1 Internet service provider AOL Time Warner (AOL ) blocked 2 billion spam messages -- 88 per subscriber -- from hitting its customers' e-mail accounts. Microsoft (MSFT), which operates No. 2 Internet service provider MSN plus e-mail service Hotmail, says it blocks an average of 2.4 billion spams per day. According to research firm Radicati Group in Palo Alto, Calif., spam is expected to account for 45% of the 10.9 trillion messages sent around the world in 2003.

One of the problems with spam, and the reason why there is so much of it, is that it is so easy to create. ­

You could easily become a spammer yourself. Let's say that you have a recipe from your grandmother for the best blueberry muffins ever created. A friend suggests that you sell the recipe for $5.

You decide that your friend might be on to something, so you send an e-mail to the 100 people in your personal e-mail address book with the subject line, "These Blueberry Muffins Have Been Described as Heaven -- You Can Have the Recipe for $5!" Your e-mail contains a link to your blueberry muffin Web site. As a result of your 100 e-mails, you get two orders and make $10.

­ "Wow!" you think, "It cost me nothing to send those 100 e-mails, and I made $10. If I sent 1,000 e-mails I could make $100. If I sent a million e-mails I could make $100,000! I wonder where I could get a million e-mail addresses..."

So, how could you get 1 million e-mail addresses? Read on to find out.

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