Gmail, a free, advertising-supported webmail service with support for Email clients, is a product from Google. Over its history, the Gmail interface has become integrated with various other products and services from the company, with basic integration as part of Google Account and specific integration points with services such as Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Buzz. It has also been made available as part of Google Apps.
Gmail was a project started by Google developer Paul Buchheit several years before it was announced to the public. Initially the software was available only internally as an email client for Google employee. The project was known by the code name Caribou, a reference to a Dilbert comic strip about Project Caribou.
Google announced Gmail to the public on April 1, 2004. IMAP support was added on October 24, 2007.
Before its acquisition by Google, the gmail.com domain name was used by a free e-mail service offered by Garfield.com, online home of the comic strip Garfield. After moving to a different domain, that service has since been discontinued.
As of 22 June 2005 (2005 -06-22)[update], Gmail's canonical URL changed from http://gmail.google.com/gmail/ to http://mail.google.com/mail/. As of November 2010[update], those who typed in the former URI were redirected to the latter.
The program began as a pet development project of Paul Buchheit primarily for people already working at Google, but it rapidly showed its promise. It was opened up to 1,000 users in March of 2004 to much fanfare and speculation among the technology press, and more users were soon invited in through the Google-owned Blogger service and through a number of other avenues. To cut down on spam in the early days, Google used viral marketing by making it so that new users could only be invited by existing ones.
The strength of the application along with the illusion of exclusivity brought on by the use of the invitation mechanic all combined to make Gmail one of the most talked about releases in application history. The feature that allowed it to search the contents of an entire email archive using Google's search engine was one of the top draws, as was the easy-to-read "conversation" user interface that grouped together linked emails in a clear and appealing fashion. The highly effective spam filtering also made it an unusually enjoyable client to use.