GMAIL (beta) Goes Public
Originally launched on April 1, 2004, entirely an invite-only service. You could only get an account if someone you knew already had one and sent you an invitation. Gmail invites were even selling on eBay from 5$ to $250 a pop!
In the middle of 2005, the system opened more widely, when Google allowed anyone in the US to get an invite by having an invitation code sent via SMS to their mobile phone.
And now the beta goes public… Google finally makes it official. Gmail is open to all. An announcement on the Official Google Blog confirms what everyone already discovered last week. That Gmail restrictions have been dropped. You still can invite friends and family to use Gmail, like you did before. However, invitations are no longer necessary to open an account.