Well, I mean, e-mail was a lot more important back then than it probably is now. You had instant messaging like AIM, ICQ, and MSN Messenger, but those were all short-form messaging, like texting is today. E-mail was more long form, not unlike how Blogger and WordPress are to Twitter.
Then there's that Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan flick, You've Got Mail.
I honestly hate myself for using that emoji. I'm sorry.