A common snippet of trivia among football fans is that Notts County, founded in 1862, is England's oldest football league club. And virtually since that date the passing on of this information has been met with the wisecrack, "Who did they play against, then?" A modern equivalent of this could be asked of the sender of the first ever email: who was the recipient? Surely the sender's address book was empty.

The answer is fairly well documented, if a little unremarkable for what turned out to be a landmark in the history of communications. The very first email was sent in 1971, and the distinction of being the first mailer goes to Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer who delivered the first message from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Despite the ability of email to traverse the globe in seconds, Tomlinson's ground breaker only travelled a few inches, landing in the inbox of a computer sat side-by-side with the one that had sent it. There is not thought to be any truth in the rumour that it took him five attempts to send the first mail successfully, as he hadn't realised he had the spam filter on for the first four.

Revolutionary moments on the communications timescale have sometimes been marked by the most unremarkable of messages. For example, in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell uttered the rather humdrum words "Mister Watson, come here; I want to see you" into a mouthpiece, and, on the appearance of the aforementioned Watson from the next room, the arrival of the telephone was confirmed. Twenty-five years later Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first ever transatlantic telegraph message when he sent the letter 's' in Morse code from Cornwall in England to St John's Harbour in Newfoundland. Tomlinson's first email was in keeping with this policy of giving unexceptional messages a place in history. Had I been the author of that first email I would have thought of something innovative to say, such as "If you can read this you are a genius", or, to be a tad facetious, "Mister Watson, come here; I want to see you". Tomlinson's first message, however, was not even accurately recorded; the closest offering being that it was "something like QWERTYUIOP".

From these rather inauspicious beginnings we have evolved to current e-traffic levels of mails sent per day worldwide running into the tens of billions. Amidst this chaos stands Microsoft Outlook, the daddy of all Personal Information Managers (PIMs), incorporating email, contacts and calendaring with tasks, notes and even a journal, Like other Office applications, Outlook comes with keyboard shortcuts that enable the operator to carry out tasks quickly and without having to leave the keyboard. Some of the most commonly used shortcuts are:

Address book: Ctrl+Shift+B
Dial: Ctrl+Shift+D
Find: Ctrl+Shift+F
New appointment: Ctrl+Shift+A
New contact: Ctrl+Shift+C
New folder: Ctrl+Shift+E
New journal entry: Ctrl+ShiftJ
New note: Ctrl+Shift+N
New meeting request: Ctrl+Shift+Q
New message: Ctrl+Shift+M
New task: Ctrl_Shift+K
New task request: Ctrl+Shift+U
Post to folder: Ctrl+Shift+P

I do not know how long it took Mr Tomlinson to get his first mail ready to send, but I'm sure he would have appreciated the above shortcuts had they been available in those days. Now that we do have them they make the modern-day mailer's life that little bit easier by allowing instant access to various functions. There are many more features within Outlook, so it is definitely worth looking into further to discover why it is the PIM of choice for so many people.