Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email and the man who chose the "@" symbol to connect the username with the destination address, has died at the age of 74, reported The Guardian. While the cause of the death has not been confirmed, reports said he died of a heart attack on Saturday.

In 1971, Tomlinson invented a program for the Internet’s predecessor, ARPANET, that allowed people to send personal messages to computers on other servers. The program changed the way people communicate both in business and in personal life, revolutionising how “millions of people shop, bank, and keep in touch with friends and family, whether they are across town or across oceans”, reads his biography on the Internet Hall of Fame website.

Originally from Amsterdam, New York, Tomlinson went to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was working at a research and development company, Bolt Beranek and Newman, which is now called Raytheon BBN Technologies, when he invented the email.

According to a 1998 profile in Forbes magazine, Tomlinson showed a colleague his invention and then said, “Don’t tell anyone! This isn’t what we’re supposed to be working on.” Raytheon spokeswoman Joyce Kuzman said, “It wasn’t an assignment at all. He was just fooling around. He was looking for something to do with ARPANET.”