[mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Wed Apr 4 11:01:37 PDT 2012

A couple of follow up points, as I had systems in mind for some of my
milestones but not all:

For "GUI" I think PARC's Laurel is clearly the first, at least if you accept
the general consensus that the Alto had the first GUI. It would be
interesting to know if Laurel was also the first to download messages to
local storage on a personal workstation for filing, replying, etc. Could
conceivably be called the first offline mail reader, though in practical
terms I don't off hand know if the Alto itself would be usable when
disconnected from the LAN.

Integrated address book: I strongly suspect that would be in a pre-Eudora
corporate email system of some kind, maybe IBM PROFS or something similar.
That's just a hunch as it would be much easier for a system inside a single
organization to maintain and integrate this. Mention of Eudora reminds me
that this should probably be split between local, user-maintained address
book and address book provided as a search mechanism onto a database of user

Recall message prior to reading: I meant delete a message from the
recipient's mailbox after sending but before reading.

First email service aimed at consumers: Compuserve Information Service and
The Source were both 1979, both aimed at consumers, and both included email.
"Aimed at consumers" is reflected in the marketing, pricing, and the fact
that CIS was priced at $5 an hour, a fraction of regular Compuserve daytime
pricing, to use up wasted computer time on evenings and weekends. One might
also consider Prestel in the UK, Minitel in France, and other videotex
services but I think these were later. 


-----Original Message-----
From: mailhist-discuss-bounces at emailhistory.org
[mailto:mailhist-discuss-bounces at emailhistory.org] On Behalf Of Dave Crocker
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2012 8:19 AM
To: John Vittal
Cc: mailhist-discuss at emailhistory.org
Subject: Re: [mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history

On 4/4/2012 2:54 AM, John Vittal wrote:
> At 12:45 PM -0700 4/3/12, Dave Crocker wrote:
>> On 3/31/2012 9:38 AM, Craig Partridge wrote:
>>> Seamless email relaying
> I think we have to define terms always. Dave makes that point 
> regarding what email is below.
> Relay, for example, seems to have two definitions:
> - One is between networks, as Dave implies with his comment about %, !,
> - The other is in effect auto forwarding, letting you "email messages 
> through your email account using your existing email service".
> Dave's comments relate to the first of these.

John's right on all counts; thanks for raising the issue.

It occurs to me that some of you might not know about:

    RFC 5598 - Internet Mail Architecture

It devotes quite a bit of energy on terminology.  It was a 5-year effort to
get email community consensus on its details...

    "2.2.2.  Relay

    The Relay performs MHS-level transfer-service routing and store-and-
    forward by transmitting or retransmitting the message to its


    5.1.  Alias
    An Alias is a simple
    re-addressing facility that provides one or more new Internet Mail
    addresses, rather than a single, internal one; the message continues
    through the transfer service, for delivery to one or more alternate

I propose that we use RFC 5598 terminology whenever possible.  Does that
work for you folk?

>> > .Integrated address book
>> Good point. I don't remember whether Hermes had something. I know that
>> did, a bit later.
> My memory from working on Hermes is that it did not have an address book.
> why I suggested Eudora. There might've been something in the intervening
> years; I don't know.

We aren't quite at the stage of assessing consensus on what to include or 
exclude, but I suggest that we allow entries that we inlcude milestones for 
which we have insufficient information (specifically lacking date and/or 
venue/actor/system confirmation.)

If we agree that a milestone was significant, it gets included, even when we

don't know enough about its origins.  It can float in the list as an open 
question.  As the timeline gets review, we'll get wider community review and
solicit pointers.

>> > .Email service targeted at consumers
>> "targeted at consumers" could be tricky. What does that mean, exactly.
>> compuserve qualify? (e.g., it wasn't the best UI in the world...)
> I took it to mean consumers vs businesses.

So it's about the marketing?

> I agree with Craig re: Compuserve.

Do we know dates of Compuserve vs. OnTyme?


Hmmm.  Just came across:


which pointed to:



No dates-of-first-use, though.

It and also uncovered:

    MCI Mail / ARPA Mail Forwarding


which is dated 1984 (the first full year of MCI Mail operation.  I had 
completely forgotten about this work.

>> >>> * Unread message recall capability
>> >
>> > MSG had this probably as early as 1975. Hermes, also.
>> I don't recall (pun) MSG's having recall, as in deleting messages stored
in a
>> recipient's mailbox, nevermind on a remote machine.
>> I've always thought of this as a LAN-system feature that didn't
generalize. It
>> mostly hinged on having a central, department-level database and a
>> integrated mail system for the department and/or enterprise.
> Again, we probably need definitions. I took "unread message recall" to
> being able to isolate email that you haven't "seen" from those that you
have. As
> opposed to what I believe Dave's meaning, "get back". Search could also be
> meaning.

The word "recall" doesn't work for me, for your definition.  Selective
or filtering is more in line with that.



   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking
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