[mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history

Dave Crocker dcrocker at gmail.com
Tue Apr 10 07:28:23 PDT 2012

On 4/10/2012 6:57 AM, Craig Partridge wrote:
>> 1. Seamless addressing, with the DNS.  The domain name system provided a 
>> naming overlay that became universal and supplanted local-part
>> source-routing hacks of %, !, etc., for relaying across heterogeneous
>> administrations and technologies.  (I could argue that the %-hack wasn't
>> strictly source-routing, but it would be a very weak argument and it
>> doesn't matter for this item...)
>> 2. Email routing, with the MX record.  Allowed remote sites to be as easy 
>> to contact as ones "directly" connected to the network  core.  As routing 
>> protocols go, this one is remarkably simplistic and yet it has proved 
>> sufficient.  And it took some iterations to  get right.
> Agree that these were separate -- but oddly enough they got resolved within
> weeks of each other.

No they didn't.  Domain names went into RFC821 and RFC822 in 1982, long before
you created MX.

That the names weren't all that useful until MX got going is a separate point.

I'm not positive that I put in syntactic support for domain names into the final
version I did of MMDF (end of 1982) but I have a ghost of a memory that thinks I
did.  Obviously this was semantically equivalent to flat names, absent MX.

So, I suggest listing:

   DNS as Mockapetris, 1982

   MX as you, 1986.

If folks think it's important to distinguish between invention of DNS and adding
its use to email, then RFC821/RFC822 would get listed for the latter.

> The decision by UUNET, CSNET and BITNET to use DNS names took place in a
> meeting in January of 1986, the same month the MX record was announced.   And
> it is not entirely coincidental.  UUNET, CSNET and BITNET were already on a
> path to adopt DNS names as they needed hierarchy.  But at the January meeting
> at ISI, one of the questions that came up was how easy was relaying going to
> be -- and the Internet folks at the meeting (including me) said "MX RRs will
> do everything necessary if you simply forward addresses that your network
> doesn't recognize to an Internet gateway".

I think this highlights the difference between 'invention' and 'deployment'.

>>> Mark Horton's creation of uuencode/uudecode.
>> I'd label this "First de facto 'attachment' convention".  Was it in fact
>> the first that gained widespread adoption?
> As best I can tell, yes it was the first one that gained widespread adoption.
> It also had an innovative feature -- no special handling of the received
> message was required beyond passing the message to uudecode.   No removing
> headers, touching up fields, etc…




  Dave Crocker
  Brandenburg InternetWorking

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