Standard for the format of ARPA network text messages
RFC 733

Document Type RFC - Unknown (November 1977; No errata)
Obsoleted by RFC 822
Obsoletes RFC 724
Last updated 2013-03-02
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RFC #   733
NIC # 41952

Obsoletes:  RFC #561  (NIC #18516)
            RFC #680  (NIC #32116)
            RFC #724  (NIC #37435)

                   STANDARD FOR THE FORMAT OF

                  ARPA NETWORK TEXT MESSAGES(1)

                        21 November 1977

                               by

                        David H. Crocker
                      The Rand Corporation

                         John J. Vittal
                  Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc.

                        Kenneth T. Pogran
              Massachusets Institute of Technology

                   D. Austin Henderson, Jr.(2)
                  Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc.

_________________________________________________________________
(1)This work was  supported  by  the  Defense  Advanced  Research
Projects Agency of the Department of Defense, under contract Nos.
N00014-75-C-0661, MDA903-76-C-0212, and DAHC15-73-C0181.

(2)The authors' postal  addresses  are:   D.  Crocker,  The  Rand
Corporation,  Information  Sciences  Dept.,  1700 Main St., Santa
Monica, California 90406; J.  Vittal  &  D.  A.  Henderson,  Bolt
Beranek & Newman, 50 Moulton St., Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138;
and  K.  Pogran,  MIT  Laboratory  for  Computer   Science,   545
Technology  Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139.  The authors'
ARPANET addresses are:  DCrocker at  Rand-Unix,  Vittal  at  BBN-
TenexD, Pogran at MIT-Multics, and Henderson at BBN-TenexD.


                              -iii-

                             PREFACE

     ARPA's  Committee  on  Computer-Aided  Human   Communication
(CAHCOM)  wishes  to promulgate a standard for the format of ARPA
Network text message (mail) headers which  will  reasonably  meet
the  needs  of  the  various  message  service  subsystems on the
Network today.  The  authors  of  this  document  constitute  the
CAHCOM  subcommittee charged with the task of developing this new
standard.

     Essentially, we specify a revision to  ARPANET  Request  for
Comments (RFC) 561, "Standardizing Network Mail Headers", and RFC
680, "Message Transmission Protocol".  This revision removes  and
compacts  portions  of  the  previous  syntax  and  adds  several
features to network address  specification.   In  particular,  we
focus  on  people  and  not  mailboxes  as  recipients  and allow
reference to stored address lists.   We  expect  this  syntax  to
provide  sufficient  capabilities  to  meet most users' immediate
needs and, therefore, give developers enough  breathing  room  to
produce  a new mail transmission protocol "properly".  We believe
that there is enough of a consensus in the Network  community  in
favor  of such a standard syntax to make possible its adoption at
this time.  An earlier draft of this specification was  published
as  RFC  #724, "Proposed Official Standard for the Format of ARPA
Network Messages"  and  contained  extensive  discussion  of  the
background and issues in ARPANET mail standards.

     This specification was developed  over  the  course  of  one
year,  using  the ARPANET mail environment, itself, to provide an
on-going forum for discussing the capabilities  to  be  included.
More   than   twenty   individuals,   from  across  the  country,
participated in this discussion and we would like to  acknowledge
their  considerable  efforts.   The  syntax  of  the standard was
originally specified in the Backus-Naur Form (BNF) meta-language.
Ken  L.   Harrenstien,  of SRI International, was responsible for
re-coding the BNF  into  an  augmented  BNF  which  compacts  the
specification and allows increased comprehensibility.



                               -v-

                            CONTENTS

PREFACE..................................................... iii

Section
   I.  INTRODUCTION.........................................   1

  II.  FRAMEWORK............................................   2

 III.  SYNTAX...............................................   4
       A. Notational Conventions............................   4
       B. Lexical Analysis of Messages......................   5
       C. General Syntax of Messages........................  13
       D. Syntax of General Addressee Items.................  15
       E. Supporting Constructs.............................  15

  IV.  SEMANTICS............................................  17
       A. Address Fields....................................  17
       B. Reference Specification Fields....................  22
       C. Other Fields and Syntactic Items..................  23
       D. Dates and Times...................................  24

   V.  EXAMPLES.............................................  25
       A. Addresses.........................................  25
       B. Address Lists.....................................  26
       C. Originator Items..................................  26
       D. Complete Headers..................................  28

Appendix
   A.  ALPHABETICAL LISTING OF SYNTAX RULES.................  31
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