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National Archives files reveal that 1994 Government advisors didn't think email would catch on

Files released by the National Archives show that Downing Street officials worried that they needed to get online or look outdated (Picture: Getty)

It would probably never catch on but was worth joining in with just in case – that was the early view of email and the internet, according to recently released files.

The files, released by the National Archives, reportedly reveal that Downing Street advisors during John Major’s premiership worried that they needed to get online or they would risk looking outdated.

The Times reported that the papers showed that Tony Blair, who was leader of the opposition at the time, would show he belonged “to a new generation” by signing up to the internet at its dawn.

Advisors to John Major were concerned that Tony Blair would look like he was part of a new generation by signing up to the internet, the files show (Picture: PA)

Damian Green, then a member of the policy unit, wrote in a memo to John Major’s principal private secretary Alex Allan in 1994 that “internet users will be a growing group of opinion-formers”.

In the note, he said: “Various MP’s [sic] who are computer-literate have made the point to me that it would be advantageous for No 10 to be seen to be up with developments in this area . . . specifically, connecting No 10 with the internet would keep us up with the White House, which has made a big thing of the modern way the Clinton/Gore administration deals with communications.”

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In a later memo written by Mr Allan, while he saw advantages in the internet, he wasn’t convinced by the longevity of email, writing: “I am cautious about rushing into it…

He added: “I do not believe we would get a huge volume of email in the long run, but we could expect an initial flood as people around the world tried it out for fun.”