I signed up for my first gmail account in July 2004. It was magical. Hotmail offered 2MB storage at that time. But Gmail thought of offering 1 gigabyte. This blew everyone away. After all, there’s no comparison between 2 megabyte and 1 gigabyte. There was only 1 caveat.
Gmail, for a very long time, was an invite only network. Only existing users could invite other people, and that too in limited quantities. It was similar to Orkut, another Google product, that you could only join by invite. The funny thing is that a ton of Pakistanis had both access and invitations to Orkut. But no one I could find had access or invitations to Gmail. So the struggle began.
My elder brother found a website called GmailSwap.com where you could offer services against a gmail invite.
Me and my brother tried to offer a bunch of services but nothing worked out. No one was interested in whatever we were offering. We weren’t creative, I guess. Or may be we offered Pakistan-relevant services that no one in the community had any interest in.
1 day I posted a swap service request that I’d spy anyone in Pakistan against a gmail invitation. A German-Pakistani found the post amusing but wasn’t interested in spying anyone. Instead he was interested in a pirated copy of Entity’s Paradigm (EP)’s debut album Irtiqa since he couldn’t buy it legally in Germany. I happened to own the album but only on cassette. Because I didn’t have the money to buy the CD, I converted the audio cassette to digital MP3s and then shared the album with him over the dial-up.
He wasn’t exactly happy with the results but rewarded me anyway for the effort.
I finally signed up on the super sexy 1 GB gmail account.
Who could have known, I’d despise it in the future.