[mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history

Craig Partridge craig at aland.bbn.com
Wed May 23 07:53:31 PDT 2012

Pulling the key question up front.
> The question is whether we should look for these kind of milestones?  If 
> so, which ones?

Sorry for the belated reply but I've been either (a) horrifically busy or
(b) ill for the past 3 weeks.

I think we need to have some rough sense of what we consider a "milestone",
or we'll get buried in events that sound important but actually didn't make
a difference in how email evolved.  As the preceding sentence suggests,
I'd propose that we define a milestone as not just an "important event"
(per dictionary definition) but one that had clear downstream influence.

So, for instance, as I recall the fact that HP joined the Internet email
system rapidly led IBM research to follow, which led to other research arms
of major companies to join.  So the event had a downstream influence.

To take another case, I can recall the first case of email defamation 
(which I think was taken to be libelous).  The party who sent the email
was sued, settled out of court, and, so far as I know, there were no downstream
consequences except that those of who were aware of the case (too few to
be a decisive force) became aware the legal system was going to be an
occasional presence going forward.  Not, to my mind, a milestone.

A trickier case -- the first SPAM message -- everyone in the community
was aware of it when it happened.  It turned out to have little impact
(we didn't try to prevent SPAM as a result).  Milestone because it happened
and we failed to respond?  Or not a milestone?  I don't know.



> On 4/10/2012 10:36 AM, Suzanne Johnson wrote:
> > do you recall if this meeting included attendance by  cc:mail folks?
> > While there were eventually gateways to smtp from cc:mail, the naming
> > conventions in cc:mail supported use of spaces.  At Intel at this time
> > (approx 1986-87), most of the business side of the corp was using
> > cc:mail with names including spaces.  Those folks could not be reached
> > by mail from the Internet.  cc:mail also seemed to have had a
> > deleterious effect on network architecture, especially for a world-wide
> > organization.  Imagine a world-wide bridged network with odd
> > instabilities caused by the mail system.  The first router for general
> > purpose use came into Intel for use in upgrading the CSnet connection
> > from PhoneNet.
> Getting back to the example of Intel, I think Craig and now Suzanne have 
> opened the door to a number of administrative/operations milestones, 
> distinct from technical ones.  (Commercial might or might not include 
> technical innovation, of course.)
> I know it was a big deal when HP standardized on Internet mail (with 
> UPenn's PMDF for relaying.)  I don't know whether that counted as the 
> first trans-national corporation's adoption of a public email 
> technology, but it's the first that I knew about.  This was roughly 
> 1986, the same timeframe as Suzanne notes for Intel.
> The question is whether we should look for these kind of milestones?  If 
> so, which ones?
> d/
> -- 
>   Dave Crocker
>   bbiw.net
Craig Partridge
Chief Scientist, BBN Technologies
E-mail: craig at aland.bbn.com or craig at bbn.com
Phone: +1 517 324 3425

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