[mailhist-discuss] Segments of email history

Jack Haverty jack at 3kitty.org
Sun May 27 16:13:26 PDT 2012

As a candidate "event with downstream influence", I suggest the ICCC
'72 - International Conference on Computer Communication, held October
24-26, 1972 at the Washington Hilton.   I was on the MIT-DM team
supporting the event - running around like crazy inside the hotel with
a bag of tools to help get everything connected and running.

I have a copy of the booklet that was handed out to every attendee
visiting the ballroom where we had set up a TIP and a whole melange of
terminals connected to sites around the Arpanet.  It is "Scenarios for
using the Arpanet at the International Conference On Computer
Communications", NIC #11863

The very first scenario in the booklet is how to send mail to another
user.  Many of the other scenarios also involve mail, on a variety of
different machines.  However, every such scenario involved sending a
message to another user on the same machine.

The thrust of the demos was to show the variety of resources that
could be accessed over the Arpanet by virtual terminal - fulfilling
Arpa's goal of sharing those expensive computer resources.

Email was prominent within the scenarios, within each machine, but
network email did not exist - which of course led to the obvious
question - "How do I send a message to the guy sitting next to me in
the ballroom?  He's logged in, but to a different machine on the
Arpanet."  Email existed, but network email did not.  Similarly, "File
Transfer" was demonstrated, but not using FTP.  These were the very
early days.

This is likely the first public demonstration of email over the
Arpanet, to an audience from diverse countries, from a variety of
industries and careers, technical, managerial, governmental, etc.  I
suspect this triggered an awareness of email and had quite a lot
downstream influence.


On Fri, May 25, 2012 at 9:44 AM, Suzanne Johnson <fuhn at pobox.com> wrote:
> Some of the "events with downstream influence" may serve to help
> explain the organic growth of the Internet.  While  many of the
> iconic events and technical milestones have been cited previously,
> I've not seen much work that begins to explain that organic growth (
> referred to most recently in a NYT editorial by Vint Cerf)
> Regarding the upcoming anniversaries relating to email, perhaps a
> better understanding of these influencing events will turn up a new
> aspect of email growth that could be highlighted.
>   --Suzanne Johnson
> At 8:03 AM -0700 5/24/12, Dave Crocker wrote:
>>On 5/23/2012 7:53 AM, Craig Partridge wrote:
>>>  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.
>>Sounds reasonable.
>>It's still subjective, but gives a pragmatic bit of guidance.
>>The modification I'll suggest is of, ummmm, retroactive downstream
>>influence.   For example, some things become iconic.  They don't have
>>much actual downstream effect, but folks refer back to them as
>>The 1978 spam is an example, IMO.  It has become a downstream
>>referential anchor and so, I believe, should be cited.
>>   Dave Crocker
>>   bbiw.net
>>mailhist-discuss mailing list
>>mailhist-discuss at emailhistory.org
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