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During the 2004 World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Bill Gates, then Microsoft’s chief software architect, predicted an end to email spam within two years using several possible means.
Two of the ideas involved solving puzzles, and the third and most promising, according to Gates, allowed email recipients to charge the sender a small fee, similar to postage stamps, or waive fees for family and friends.
“In the long term, the monetary (method) will dominate,” he predicted.
Despite Gates predicting that the world would be spam-free by 2006, 2007 saw a record spam level of 10.8 trillion in spam, compared with 10.5 trillion legitimate emails. However, thanks in part to better filtering, the percentage of spam to legitimate emails has gradually improved over the years.
After hitting an all-time high in 2008, spam began to decline from 92% of all spam mail traffic to less than 30% as of 2019, according to Statista… Another Kaspersky report estimates that spam accounts for about 47% of all emails as of 2020.