[mailhist-discuss] Template for describing email software

Tom Van Vleck thvv at multicians.org
Mon Jul 23 09:00:08 PDT 2012

On Jul 23, 2012, at 10:12 AM, Dave Crocker wrote:

> Any descriptions of early email software will be useful, but I am 
> wondering whether it will help to have a basic questionnaire template.
> Such as:
>    Name:
>    Author/Organization(s):
>    Type (eg, MUA, MTA, List, Service):
>    Creation date:
>    Platform(s):
>    Language:
>    Functions:
>    Development history:
>    Anecdotes:
> Thoughts?

It's hard to guess what future students of email history might want to know.
It might be worth adding a few more items to the template.

- Who is reporting this information and how do you know.
- Source of information: "based on personal recollection" vs "documented in Wikipedia by anonymous sources" vs "in a manual online at bitsavers.org" etc

- People who contributed to the software.
-- not all programs have a single "author."  in some cases email function was a little part of a bigger thing and hard to apportion.
-- many roles: having the idea, writing the prototype, turning it into a service, making key extensions
-- ways to contact surviving people in case someone wants more info

- "creation" date may not be consistently defined. first clean compile? first message sent? first paying customer?

- along with the start dates, someone might be interested in how long email software remained in service, how many people used it, what the community was, etc.

- "language" got me thinking about what other environment features enabled creation of a piece of email software.
-- what libraries and platform support facilities it depended on
-- what network(s) were used

just thinkin'

regards, tom

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