[mailhist-discuss] user and corporate view: email

Suzanne Johnson fuhn at pobox.com
Mon Apr 2 11:51:35 PDT 2012

Hi All..

Some comments from the perspective of an early user.

At Sumex-AIM (first non-DOD funded resource on the ARPAnet) we were 
very concerned with providing capability to facilitate communications 
among developers (of applications of AI in medicine and chemistry) 
and among users of these systems.  Email and conferencing systems 
were among those with which we experimented.  Earliest email agent I 
recall was BANANARD.  There were several others until the big change 
to one that provided the ability to REPLY.   Though I'm not sure I 
recall the first to provide that capability.

I left Sumex in late 1977 and moved to Intel, where they had DEC-10s 
running Tops-10 (big difference from Tenex).  One of the first things 
I can recall doing was to get a tape containing a Tops-10 mail 
application from some folks at NIH, I believe.  That mail system ran 
on Tops-10, but not over a network (not even DECnet).  Recall at that 
time that most DEC-10s on the ARPAnet were running TENEX.  DEC had 
not yet caught on to the possibilities of productizing networking or 
mail systems.  I believe they were just beginning to think about 
Tops-20 as a commercial version of TENEX.

One early project at Intel involved looking at word processing 
systems, including Wang, NBI, Xerox and possibly others, including a 
TENEX/Tops-20 based TVEDIT ssytem originated at Stanford.  To the 
best of my recollection, email was not an offering on any of those 
systems at that time, except for the TVEDIT system.

By the mid-eighties, Intel connected to the Internet via CSnet. 
CSnet (PHONEnet, MMDF and related) should not be underestimated in 
the impact they had in rationalizing mail systems and their use, as 
well as network architecture, within the corporation.   At this 
point, part of  Intel had adopted Novell Networks and Lotus Notes. 
Corporate IT had adopted a email address system for them that 
included the use of spaces.  We had asked that they not do that, and 
that they stay consistent with Internet naming, but at that point the 
Internet was considered the domain of "wild eyed engineers and 

Fortunately, many of the Intel sr. execs at the time had children 
going off to college.  Those new students quickly figured out that 
there was an intel.com domain, and started asking their parents how 
to send them email.  We got a trickle, then a flood of folks wanting 
Internet capable email addresses.  Similar events eventually led to 
an effort to agree on one network architecture (Internet based). 
This helped immeasurable in getting standardized email addressing 
within the company.

I truly believe that CSnet's role in Internet connectivity and email 
standardization for the corporation can not be overestimated. 
(Disclaimer:  I was a membe of CSnet Exec committee, and then CREN 
for a number of years).

   --Suzanne Johnson

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