Eric Thomas' Invention Established Email List Communication Industry in 1986
Bethesda, MD (June 15, 2006) – There is only one LISTSERV®, and the first email list communication software celebrates its 20th anniversary today.
L-Soft Founder and CEO Eric Thomas' 1986 invention of LISTSERV is a major milestone in Internet history, literally launching the email list communication industry by automating message distribution.
"LISTSERV started in 1986 as a weekend project to improve the usefulness of mailing lists. I had no idea at the time that there would be so much interest from so many people, let alone that I would still be improving LISTSERV 20 years later," Thomas said. "I had just grown frustrated with the turnaround time of mailing lists, which was due to the disproportionate amount of bandwidth that they required at the time. But this paled in comparison to the turnaround time of list owners, who had to process subscription requests from thousands of people on top of their everyday jobs. It could take weeks to be added to a mailing list or, worse, to leave it."
LISTSERV solved these problems by automating most aspects of list administration and optimizing the routing and delivery of list mail using an advanced mail routing system known as DISTRIBUTE.
"We had a situation where people did not want to join lists because it was so hard to get removed from them, and people did not want to start new lists because it was such a hassle to add and remove subscribers all the time. There were doomsday prophecies about the viability of mailing list technology, and I thought that was such a pity, because mailing lists were incredibly useful," Thomas said. "My goal was simply to create a tool that would allow mailing lists to prosper while making life easier for subscribers and list owners. It was a simple idea whose success exceeded all my expectations. Sometimes you set about solving a small problem, and later on you realize that you have actually solved a big problem."
Some key milestones in LISTSERV's evolution include the creation of the 1000th public list in 1988; when a LISTSERV list broke the half-million subscriber mark in 1996; and LISTSERV list subscriptions reaching 100 million in 2000. Consistent with its role as industry pioneer, LISTSERV was the first software of its kind to provide a spam filter, in 1995. In addition, it remains the first and only email list communication solution to include integrated anti-virus protection, provided through a partnership with F-Secure.
LISTSERV was so widely accepted that there was no alternative product until 1991, even though LISTSERV only ran on expensive IBM mainframes. Today, LISTSERV is the de facto industry standard. More than 3,700 customers from the corporate, government, non-profit, media and educational sectors worldwide use LISTSERV solutions to power their opt-in email list communications – including electronic newsletters, announcement lists, email marketing campaigns and discussion groups. Seth Godin, the expert who coined the phrase "permission marketing", has stated: "Without LISTSERV, email marketing never would have gotten off the ground."
LISTSERV supports all major operating systems, having added Mac OS X in 2005. The current version of the software, LISTSERV 14.5 is the only product of its kind to provide DomainKeys support and a deliverability assessment feature to boost deliverability in today's challenging email environment. "Deliverability is the keyword for 2006 and probably 2007," Thomas said.
Although the term "listserv" has become a part of everyday language and is sometimes used in error as a generic term, L-Soft – headquartered in Sweden and the United States – is the only company that offers the trademarked LISTSERV brand.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of LISTSERV, L-Soft is providing free perpetual licenses for its premium email marketing software, LISTSERV Maestro, to the first 20 organizations that apply for this special offer. All selected organizations will also receive a free remote installation. The first 20 organizations who already have or who purchase a perpetual license of LISTSERV Classic or LISTSERV HPO with technical support are eligible to apply for this special offer.
For more information about the special offer, visit:
For a limited time, L-Soft invites people to sign the LISTSERV 20th anniversary greeting card, at:
To read more about LISTSERV's history and development, visit:
L-Soft, which was incorporated in 1994, offers email list and opt-in email marketing software and hosting services for managing email newsletters, discussion groups and marketing campaigns. L-Soft's products send about 30 million messages a day to more than 110 million list subscriptions. L-Soft celebrates the 20th anniversary of LISTSERV® in 2006.
Susan Brown Faghani
LISTSERV is a registered trademark licensed to L-Soft international, Inc.
See Guidelines for Proper Usage of the LISTSERV Trademark for more details.
All other trademarks, both marked and unmarked, are the property of their respective owners.