[mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history
jjvittal at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 2 07:53:00 PDT 2012
Hi Tom (and Craig, et. al.),
I second Craig's comment about the list. I've added my own annotations.
At 3:07 PM -0400 3/31/12, Craig Partridge wrote:
>Good list. Some annotations where I think I know enough...
>> * Pre-email electronic message transmission, including the suggestion
>> that SAGE operators could hack personal messages into data streams, etc.
>> * Email on timesharing systems, single computer.
It's probably closer to chat than email, but the PLEASE command on
Tops-10 was there early on to communicate with the operator and users.
> > * Header fields
>As best I can tell, this one was one of Ray Tomlinson's innovations.
>> * First email reader
>Current lore is Larry Roberts did it to handle ARPANET email -- certainly
>they weren't common enough before ARPANET that Larry had to write one from
>> * Network email.
>> * Commercial offering of email by timesharing service
>> * Integration of email reader, message sender, and composition
> functions. (Not sure if "Reply" was part of this).
>It was -- the key idea was that, up to "reply", if you got an email and
>wanted to reply you had to hand-type in who should receive the reply.
>(Shows up the paper mail as archetype world that folks were still working in).
>> * Integrated address book
>Great point -- I have no idea when this happened.
>> * Confirmed delivery over network
>> * Unread message recall capability
MSG had this probably as early as 1975. Hermes, also.
> > * Client/server email, with messages downloaded for local processing,
>> filing, response on a different computer from the mailbox store.
Probably with the advent of POP in 1984?
> > * GUI for client
>My bet is Novell or someone of that vintage.
>> * Email systems offered to smaller businesses by office automation
>> vendors (DEC, Wang, IBM, etc -- not clear what they had when in late 1970s)
>> * Notes-style advanced database server integrating email with other
>> collaboration tools
>I think Lotus Notes led here (though I remember that the Lotus guys
>struggled with email -- it didn't make sense to them).
Might one be able to argue that Vezza's MSGDMS or BBN's Hermes fit
the bill here before Lotus?
>> * Email service targeted at consumers
>> * Email for personal computer LANs
>> * Major global company rolls out email as main mode of internal
>> communication (IBM? DEC?)
Xerox might be in the mix here too.
> > * Rich text
>> * Integrated encryption
>> * Asian character sets
>> * Attachments
>I think that's uuencode and Mark Horton (which is USENET, not ARPANET --
>ARPANET was very very late to this table).
>> * Inline images
>> * Gateways between commercial email services
>Arrived very early (Dave knows more about MCIMail and their ilk than I do).
>> It's possible that there are some areas in which Internet email does not
>> claim the "first." For example, it's conceivable (and I have no knowledge of
>> this) that IBM's internal system might have offered the same simple global
>> addressing feature as Craig's "Seamless email relaying" prior to 1987.
>I think I need to explain -- seamless email relaying meant you could send
>email to a large fraction of the distinct networks (by distinct, I mean
>different operator, different services) using the same email address syntax.
>> Likewise I wouldn't be surprised to learn that proprietary systems provided
>> capabilities similar to MIME years before this was standardized for Internet
>> email. There are also some important capabilities that Internet email still
>> doesn't do very well, which why the market for Exchange and Notes still
>CMU's Andrew system is probably the best example.
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