Back in my Amiga-using days, I had an email program called YAM. It was excellent and ubiquitous; almost everyone used it. It had three unique features:

  • You could configure it to embed small bits of personal information in outgoing emails, such as your birthday.
  • When it saw these bits in email that other people sent to you, it could add the information to your address book.
  • It had an option to automatically send a “happy birthday” email to everyone in your address book on their birthday.

I was active on a lot of mailing lists, so my address book was pretty full with people I’d hardly met. I sent them happy birthday emails each year, and on my birthday, it was fun to get flooded with a few hundred little messages from well-wishers I didn’t know except maybe from some obscure discussion group.

I had the sad realization a few days ago that for the first time ever since I started using YAM, I didn’t receive a single email from it this year. Not one of my old friends still does this. While it’s not very big in the scheme of this, it still marks the sad end to a happy era.