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- Created 2012-02-26
, most commonly referred to as
1993, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the
s. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be
at the same time, in common with
. Today's email systems are based on a
accept, forward, deliver, and store messages. Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need connect only briefly, typically to a
, for as long as it takes to send or receive messages.
Historically, the term
was used generically for any electronic document transmission. For example, several writers in the early 1970s used the term to describe
document transmission. As a result, it is difficult to find the first citation for the use of the term with the more specific meaning it has today.
An Internet email message consists of three components, the message
, the message
, and the message
. The message header contains control information, including, minimally, an originator's
and one or more recipient addresses. Usually descriptive information is also added, such as a subject header field and a message submission date/time stamp.
Originally a text-only (ASCII) communications medium, Internet email was extended to carry, e.g. text in other character sets, multi-media content attachments, a process standardized in
2045 through 2049. Collectively, these RFCs have come to be called
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions
have proposed standards for internationalized email addresses using
Electronic mail predates the inception of the
and was in fact a crucial tool in creating it, but the history of modern, global Internet email services reaches back to the early
. Standards for encoding email messages were proposed as early as 1973 (RFC 561). Conversion from ARPANET to the Internet in the early 1980s produced the core of the current services. An email sent in the early 1970s looks quite similar to a basic text message sent on the Internet today.
Network-based email was initially exchanged on the ARPANET in extensions to the (FTP), but is now carried by the
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
(SMTP), first published as
10 (RFC 821) in 1982. In the process of transporting email messages between systems, SMTP communicates delivery parameters using a message
separate from the message (header and body) itself.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 04 December), licensed under
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IANA's list of standard header fields
The History of Electronic Mail
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