*I* WROTE THIS! That's right, I started this e-mail forward in August of 1998. For the good of mankind. A friend of mine likes to torment me and tell me how he sees bastardized versions of it on various websites, with various people claiming responsibility for it. For the first few months, I got direct responses to it (I sent it to friends, from my real e-mail address). Then I started getting versions forwarded back to me where they had removed my name, the name of my friend Bernard who inspired me to write it, added new things, etc.
But the original list is mine. Mine, mine, mine.
You're probably thinking "Well, what the hell did you
expect?". Well, I definitely thought it would propagate (this is e-mail we're talking about, EVERYTHING propagates). I knew it would get changed. But I didn't think about it getting slapped on people's web sites and claimed as their own. I don't really know why I even feel this inane need to prove that I wrote it.
Anyway, enough whining. What follows is the text copied directly from my pine sent-mail folder from that time. I have only edited it to remove friends' names/e-mail addresses. Oddly enough, the version originally posted at the Email Facts Of Life node has very little distortion.
From email@example.com Mon Aug 31 12:44:26 1998
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 1998 12:44:21 -0400 (EDT)
To: (snipped list of ten or fifteen real-life friends)
Subject: SAVE BERNARD
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
Today was the last straw. I got another copy of the "Disney is going to
give 13,000 people a free vacation if this message annoys at least 10%
of the Internet population" spam.
I don't know how these things get started, but I've decided to start my
own, and I'm counting on all of you to help pass it on. You won't get a
free copy of Windows98 for doing so, but if enough copies of the
message get out, I will consider NOT killing the last person who sent
me the Disney spam. Yes, Bernard's life is in your hands! He was trying
to be ironic, but he forced me to read it again anyway, and now God
Will Call Bernard Home if this message doesn't reach exactly 8,993
Here it goes.
Erynn's Email Facts Of Life
1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not
giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There
is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. You can relax;
there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true". Furthermore,
just because someone said in the message, four generations back, that
"we checked it out and it's legit", does not actually make it true.
2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in
a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened
to their cousin. If you are hellbent on believing the kidney-theft ring
stories, please see:
And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued
requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell
their stories. None have." That's "none" as in "zero". Not even your
3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if
they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy at:
Then, if you make the recipe, decide the cookies are that awesome, feel
free to pass the recipe on - sans the Neiman Marcus story.
4. We all know all 500 ways to drive your roommates crazy.
5. We all know how many usenet posters it takes to change a lightbulb.
6. Even if the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium
that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think
this information would reach the public via an AOL chain-letter?
7. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever
forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at
an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with virii. Try
http://www.norton.com. And even then, don't forward it. We don't care.
8. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of your
message, you're probably going to Hell.
9. If you're using Outlook, IE, or Netscape to write email, turn off
the "HTML encoding." Those of us on unix shells can't read it, and
don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web
browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman
Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.
10. If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message
from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of
headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months.
But even then, you WILL be putting Bernard's life at stake. Don't say
you weren't warned.
Item #2: A company where I used to work with Bernard sent out some kidney-theft-ring spam and panicked all the sales people. It annoyed me thereafter.
Item #6: I worked at a newspaper at the time. We had an antiquated Mac-based email system that they had somehow managed to kludge into handling Internet e-mail. But if email was addressed to the wrong address at our domain, it didn't "bounce"; it got sent to me. So I got to see the ridiculous things that AOL users would cheerfully "me too"-spam to newspaper editors, once their e-mail addresses became public. Including this stupid plutonium thing. I remember the alleged original "author" included the line "Trust me, I know. I'm an engineer."
Item #8: Direct reference to a friend of mine who will remain nameless. He asked if it was directed at him. It was, of course, but I lied. I didn't really want to offend him.
So, there you have it. I always wondered at that time how forwards got started. Hopefully others will find it interesting to see the origin of one.