Gmail was launched on 1 April, 2004 by Google as it's official email offering. At the time many people treated email as beginning to slow after the initial rush and uptake that it had seen in the late 1990s. The introduction of Gmail in 2004 revolutionized email and created a more efficient and faster service that offered email to millions around the world.
Gmail's real achievements is in the way emails are displayed. They are listed in 'conversation' style boxes so the email thread is much more easily read. Whereas with other email providers, conversations are very boxy and bitty, Gmail provides a more fluid interface for each access and navigation that allows users to easily access and read through lengthy emails.
The next major achievement is search. I suppose this should not be surprising given that Gmail is from the world's largest search engine, but the search functionality of Gmail is outstanding. Basic search functionality allows you to type in a basic phrase or keyword and a list of associated emails pops up. Advanced search allows you to include filters and features that narrows the search and provides the results in a matter of milli-seconds.
Gmail has also integrated widgets and apps into the email service in the form of it's Labs development program. This allows you to add widgets to your email that provides a whole host of services from IP identification through to preventing you from writing emails when you are under the influence …!
Gmail is also open to business. Businesses can register their domain with Google and Google will set up a Gmail interface complete with their email address allowing businesses to fully utilize the benefits of Gmail and it's email for their businesses. This allows users to read and follow their email addresses without the need of expensive Outlook or Exchange subscriptions and allows users to access their email from anywhere in the world.
If you're not already on Gmail I recommend getting your email address today. You will not be disappointed.