Origin of the Net Abuse Term "Spam"
Unfortunately for Hormel Foods®, maker of the canned "Shoulder Pork and hAM" or "SPiced hAM" luncheon meat, the term "spam" has come to mean internet abuse, particularly mass junk e-mail and junk postings.
In the beginning, there were a few types of abuse the term came to mean: flooding a computer with too much data in order to crash it; "spamming the database" by creating a large number of program-generated files; flooding chat sessions with program-generated text or inserting a file instead of inputting by hand.
Well, how did the name of this food product get usurped? Why "spam?" Some of you may remember a comedy skit done by Monty Python. The skit is about a restaurant that serves everything on its menu with Spamlots of it! At certain points, a group of Vikings in the background break out into song: "Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!" Thus, you can see *why* the name became a term that now means some unwanted thing annoyingly repeated. But how, when and where?
Some say the the term came from an early "chat" system, circa early '80s, before the web even existed. When the ability to dump whole files into the chat system was developed, users would flood the chat session with the words to the Monty Python Spam Song to annoy others.In 1994 it happened. That's when people began broadly referring to spam as spam. Though techies were discussing the noun and verb form of the word as early as 1990, it wasn't until a few years later that the world really bit into "spam."
Early Noteworthy Dates
1971: Pre-net spam sent on MIT's CTSS MAIL (Compatible Time Sharing System)
Subject: THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE. PEACE IS THE WAY.
1978: The first internet e-mail spam, sent by DEC
Subject: ADRIAN@SRI-KL (This was an invitation to a new products presentation)
1988: Mass "charity" scam to newsgroups by a student whose college fund was running out.
Subject: HELP ME!
1993: Possibly first reference to a spam as "spam," made by an anti-spam programmer.
1994: The first major USENET "spamming," posted to every group.
Developer of ARMM, a program designed to remove spam postings, test ran it and, due to a bug, it wound up spamming messages itself.
Subject: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: ARMM: Supersedes or Also-Control
Subject: Global Alert for All: Jesus is Coming Soon.