[mailhist-discuss] Question about the early use of email

Dave Crocker dcrocker at bbiw.net
Wed Nov 19 09:34:16 PST 2014

On 11/19/2014 8:50 AM, Thomas Haigh wrote:
> In the 1980s and very early 1990s most public services with email were intended primarily for sending messages to other uses of the same online service – MCI Mail, AOL, Compuserv, BIX, Genie, Prodigy. So people mostly would sign up for the same service if they wanted to send messages to each other.

I'm inclined to suggest a world view of email at that time as dividing
into three basic camps:

   1.  Extended Internet

       Internet, Usenet, Bitnet, etc., primarily for academic and
       research communities, but with steadily increasing corporate

   2.  National services

       MCI Mail, AOL, Compuserv, BIX, Genie, Prodig,
       Telenet, ...

   3.  Department/Enterprise

       DEC All-in-One, IBM Profs, cc:Mail, Banyan, ...

Interconnection of the second two types of environments varied between
using the extended Internet, direct ad hoc links, or one of the national

Interconnection technologies varied between ad hoc, X.400, and Internet
Mail.  At that time, there was still quite a bit of competition between
the two standards (X.400 vs. Internet) but the market was some distance
yet from resolving it. The user experience with interconnected services
varied quite a bit.  The richer their local environment, the worse their
experience, since interconnection tended to severely reduce end-to-end

Note that Linda cited #3 as the source of her first experience.


Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking

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