Test Your Nerd Knowledge: Aug. 16, 2022

Here’s a review of this week’s questions:

1. What is the name of the email marketing platform that became popular when advertised on the podcast “Serial” in 2014?
2. Now considered an unsung innovator, Gary Thuerk sent the first one of these annoying inbox items in 1978. What was it?
3. What computer hardware company featured a “cow motif” on its packaging and once had over 300 retail stores?








And here are the answers:

  1. Mailchimp. The 2014 podcast sensation, “Serial,” featured brief audio clips at the beginning and end of each episode from Mailchimp, the email marketing platform that had existed since 2001. One ad became memorable for its inclusion of an unscripted mispronunciation of the company’s name — MailKimp — as spoken by a 14-year-old girl from Norway. As the podcast’s popularity grew, so did Mailchimp’s success in its field. Started as a side project in 2001 by internet marketers Mark Armstrong and Ben Chestnut, it succeeded with no outside funding, and no plans for an IPO, and for 20 years turned down acquisition offers – at least until 2021, when Intuit acquired the company for $12 billion.
  2. Spam Email. In 1978, Gary Thuerk, a marketing manager for the now defunct computer company Digital Equipment Corporation, sent out an unsolicited mass e-mail promoting his firm’s computer products. The message was sent to hundreds of computers over ARPANET, the precursor to the internet. Thuerk’s message immediately provoked ire among the recipients and a reprimand from the network’s administrators. Thuerk’s e-mail is now widely credited as the first example of spam, although the term was not used to refer to unsolicited mass emails until many years later. The inspiration for using the term is believed to be a 1970s Monty Python’s Flying Circus television sketch in which a group of Vikings sing a chorus about Spam. Thuerk is now a consultant to businesses and a keynote speaker to events all over the world.
  3. Gateway. Two Iowa natives, Ted Waitt and Mike Hammond, founded Gateway in 1985. After borrowing money from Waitt’s grandmother, they began the journey that eventually made them wealthy and made their computers immensely popular, even leading to a chain of Gateway retail stores around 2001. As part of their extended homegrown marketing strategy, they would ship their products to customers in black and white boxes resembling the markings on Holstein dairy cows. Because they only used two colors, this practice saved on packaging costs, and the cow strategy, which pre-dated Chick Fil-A’s use of similar imagery, made the product ubiquitous when Americans considered purchasing home computers. After exceeding sales of over four billion dollars in 2006, Gateway, which is still an active presence in the industry, moved aside to let other major players take the lead in sales of tech hardware.