Summary of computer mail services meeting held at BBN on 10 January 1979
RFC 808

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Network Working Group                                          J. Postel
Request for Comments:  808                                           ISI
                                                            1 March 1982

                     HELD AT BBN ON 10 JANUARY 1979


   This note is a very belated attempt to document a meeting that was
   held three years ago to discuss the state of computer mail in the
   ARPA community and to reach some conclusions to guide the further
   development of computer mail systems such that a coherent total mail
   service would continue to be provided.

   Some important conclusions were reached at this meeting which limited
   the extent to which mail systems were to incorporate new features in
   the context of the existing service and specifications.
   Unfortunately, this meeting and the conclusions were not documented,
   and the specifications were not revised.  This has led to continuing
   problems in the mail service.

   Due to the passage of time these notes are necessarily quite
   incomplete.  It is thought that there were a number of other
   attendees.  I would like to express my appreciation to those who
   helped provide this information, especially Vint Cerf, Jack Haverty,
   Danny Cohen, Bob Thomas, and Debbie Deutsch.

The Meeting Announcement:

   On 10 January 1979 we are holding a meeting at BBN in Cambridge, MA,
   starting at 0930, to discuss Message Service support on the ARPANET.
   The purpose of the meeting is to provide a basis for any
   standardization of efforts which may be necessary.  We will take
   stock of the various message services currently available on the
   ARPANET, discuss problems which have been encountered between
   different message systems, review current protocols and review
   forthcoming developments.  An agenda is given below.  Each of you
   should be prepared to discuss current problems you are aware of and
   any developments which impact future message service.

Postel                                                          [Page 1]

Summary of Computer Mail Services Meeting                   1 March 1982
RFC 808

The Meeting Agenda:

   1.  Present State of Affairs
      .  Survey of Message Systems
      .  Current Problems
      .  Format Protocols - RFC 560, 680, 733
      .  Distribution Service
      .  Documentation
   2.  Future Developments in Message Technology
      .  Multi-Media Techniques
      .  Impact of Personal Computers
      .  Distributed Service
         -  NSW Project
         -  Internetwork Addressing and Forwarding
      .  Other
   3.  Impact of Charging Technology on the Message Service
      .  Protocols
      .  Distribution of Messages
   4.  Managing the Message Service
   5.  Supporting the Message Service


   1.  Duane Adams opened the meeting.  He indicated that we should be
   concerned about computer mail as a total message service (not just as
   a local user interface), and asked what impact on the message service
   the developments in internetting and multimedia would have.

   2.  Dave Farber gave a bit of history of mail systems, listing the
   names of all the systems anybody had every heard of (see Appendix A).
   It was noted that most of the mail systems were not formal projects
   (in the sense of explicitly sponsored research), but things that
   "just happened".

   3.  Ted Myer chaired a discussion of current problems in mail
   systems, and the following made comments as well: R. Stallman,
   D. Farber, P. Santos, K. Harrenstien, R. Kunzelman, T. Knight,
   B. Thomas, D. Lebling, J. Haverty, D. Cohen, D. Adams, V. Cerf, and
   A. Vezza.

      This was mostly gripes about what this or that mail system did

         Topics included use of MLFL instead of MAIL, fully qualifying
         the all the usernames with hostnames on all the addresses,
         immediate feedback about the addressed user having a mailbox at
         the destination host or getting an error message later, host

Postel                                                          [Page 2]

Summary of Computer Mail Services Meeting                   1 March 1982
RFC 808

         table update problems, strange FTP replies (e.g., "System going
         down in 10 minutes"), and addressing issues.

      There were also some things mentioned that might be added to the
      current systems.

         Topics included virtual hosts (e.g., NSW), internetted hosts,
         authentication, message identification, duplicate detection,
         spoofing, multicopy delivery, limits on receipt, program to
         program mail, structured typed data, graphics, fax, and voice.

      At the end of this session there was a statement that further work
      was putting patches on patches and that we should make a
      commitment to a version 2 system.  There should be an edict that
      says "this is it", and the current mail service should be frozen.
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