British officials saw little future in email in 1994, according to files released by the National Archives.
“I am cautious about rushing into it,” wrote John Major’s secretary Alex Allan. “I do not believe we would get a huge volume of email in the long run, but we could expect an initial flood as people around the world tried it out for fun.”
Email and ecommerce were in their infancy in the U.S. at that point. However, there is evidence that some people referred to unsolicited email as spam.
However, policy advisor Damian Green wrote to Allan in 1994 that “internet users will be a growing group of opinion-formers”.
He added: “Various MP’s [sic] who are computer-literate have made the point to me that it would be advantageous for No 10 to be seen to be up with developments in this area . . . specifically, connecting No 10 with the internet would keep us up with the White House, which has made a big thing of the modern way the Clinton/Gore administration deals with communications.”
Green also wrote that “Internet users will be a growing group of opinion-formers, and I can just imagine Tony Blair showing how he belongs to a new generation by signing up.”
Blair had just been elected as Labour Leader, and would become Prime Minister in 1997.