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In the early 1980s, Sean Howard was the editor of the Australian Personal Computer magazine and was running a small electronic mail service called Microtex. In 1992, he sold his share of Computer Publications to ACP and concentrated on Microtex which he renamed OzEmail. At this time, OzEmail (based in St Leonards, NSW) had 8 staff members and was creating a system to integrate Lotus Software Cc:Mail, MicrosoftMail and Novell MHS Mail systems. The initial network consisted of 16 POPs around Australia.
On 28 May 1996, OzEmail became the first Australian tech stock ever to list on the NASDAQ. With the trading symbol OZEMY, over A$50 million in investment capital was raised. Two years later, OzEmail listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) with the symbol OZM.
Also in 1996, OzEmail were unsuccessful respondents in a case involving the creators of Trumpet Winsock regarding intellectual property and trade practices matters . The court found that Mr Howard was "closely involved in all stages of the project". At the time this distribution occurred in 1995, Trumpet Winsock 2.0B was commonly distributed by ISPs without properly licensing it. The lawsuit alleged that OzEmail deliberately removed reference to the fact that it was shareware and required registration. Trumpet Winsock 2.1 was the first timelocked version, released in July 1995. This was too late for OzEmail who went ahead and distributed the 2.0B version without permission before 2.1 was released, but they did have a draft README mentioning that the new version will be timelocked to 30 days and required to be registered. This was also just before Windows 95 was released which has built-in TCP/IP support (and Trumpet Winsock 2.1 would not work with Win32 Winsock applications).
Through 1997 and 1998, OzEmail grew at a great rate by acquisitions and aggressive growth while competing with some 850 ISPs. On 14 December 1998, WorldCom (later MCI) launched a takeover bid. It was completed on 24 February 1999 when they became 100% owners of OzEmail, removing OzEmail from the NASDAQ and ASX. OzEmail continued its previous strategy of acquiring other companies. Malcolm Turnbull, later Prime Minister, was then chairman of OzEmail.
Perth based ISP iiNet purchased the assets of OzEmail on 28 February 2005 and started trading under the new name iiNet (OzEmail) Pty Ltd. The OzEmail brand name is now no longer available. While existing customers have kept their OzEmail usernames, new customers are signed up under the iiNet brand.
In 1995, OzEmail established a New Zealand offshoot, Voyager Internet, and was one of the first Internet providers in the country to go nationwide. Following the WorldCom scandal and its subsequent pulling out of consumer Internet services, by 2002 its customer base had been largely acquired by Telecom New Zealand's Xtra.
- Head, Beverley (14 October 2002). "A decade of life with OzEmail". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- iiNet confirms talks to acquire OzEmail. The Age, 28 January 2005. Accessed 12 August 2007.
- "1995: The Story of New Zealand's Internet". Down to the Wire: The Story of New Zealand's Internet. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- Paul Brislen and Stephen Lawson. "Alleged fraud at US telco giant". Computerworld New Zealand. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "WorldCom : About WorldCom". Archived from the original on 1 April 2002. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "WorldCom New Zealand Ltd (research discontinued)". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "Kiwiw Telecommunicaitons Timeline #2". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
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