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Jumat, 01 Januari 2010


Electronic mail, often abbreviated as email, e.mail or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages. E-mail systems are based on a store-and-forward model in which e-mail computer server systems accept, forward, deliver and store messages on behalf of users, who only need to connect to the e-mail infrastructure, typically an e-mail server, with a network-enabled device (e.g., a personal computer) for the duration of message submission or retrieval. Originally, e-mail was always transmitted directly from one user's device to another's; nowadays this is rarely the case.

An electronic mail message consists of two components, the message header, and the message body, which is the email's content. The message header contains control information, including, minimally, an originator's email address and one or more recipient addresses. Usually additional information is added, such as a subject header field.

Originally a text-only communications medium, email was extended to carry multi-media content attachments, which were standardized in with RFC 2045 through RFC 2049, collectively called, Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME).

The foundation for today's global Internet e-mail service was created in the early ARPANET and standards for encoding of messages were proposed as early as 1973 (RFC 561). An e-mail sent in the early 1970s looked very similar to one sent on the Internet today. Conversion from the ARPANET to the Internet in the early 1980s produced the core of the current service.

Network-based email was initially exchanged on the ARPANET in extensions to the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), but is today carried by the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), first published as Internet standard 10 (RFC 821) in 1982. In the process of transporting email messages between systems, SMTP communicates delivery parameters using a message envelope separately from the message (headers and body) itself.


There are several spelling variations that are occasionally the cause of vehement disagreement.

email is the form officially required by IETF Request for Comments and working groups and is also recognized in most dictionaries.

e-mail is a form still recommended by some prominent journalistic and technical style guides.

Less common forms include eMail and simply mail.

mail was the form used in the original RFC. The service is referred to as mail and a single piece of electronic mail is called a message.

eMail, capitalizing only the letter M, was common among ARPANET users and early developers from Unix, CMS, AppleLink, eWorld, AOL, GEnie, and Hotmail.

EMail is a traditional form that has been used in RFCs for the "Author's Address" and is expressly required "...for historical reasons...".


Electronic mail predates the inception of the Internet, and was in fact a crucial tool in creating the Internet.

MIT first demonstrated the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) in 1961.It allowed multiple users to log into the IBM 7094 from remote dial-up terminals, and to store files online on disk. This new ability encouraged users to share information in new ways. E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. Although the exact history is murky, among the first systems to have such a facility were SDC's Q32 and MIT's CTSS.

Host-based mailsystems

The original email systems allowed communication only between users who logged into the one host or "mainframe", but this could be hundreds or thousands of users within a company or university. By 1966 (or earlier, it is possible that the SAGE system had something similar some time before), such systems allowed email between different companies as long as they ran compatible operating systems, but not to other dissimilar systems.

Examples include BITNET, IBM PROFS, Digital All-in-1 and the original Unix mail.

LAN-based mailsystems

From the early 1980s networked personal computers on LANs became increasingly important - and server-based systems similar to the earlier mainframe systems developed, and again initially allowed communication only between users logged into the one server, but these also could generally be linked between different companies as long as they ran the same email system and (proprietary) protocol.

Examples include cc:Mail, WordPerfect Office, Microsoft Mail, Banyan VINES and Lotus Notes - with various vendors supplying gateway software to link these incompatible systems.

Attempts at Interoperability

• Novell briefly championed the open MHS protocol
• uucp was used as an open "glue" between differing mail systems
• The Coloured Book protocols on UK academic networks until 1992
• X.400 in the early 1990s was mandated for government use under GOSIP but almost immediately abandoned by all but a few — in favour of Internet SMTP

The rise of ARPANET-based mail

The ARPANET computer network made a large contribution to the development of e-mail. There is one report that indicates experimental inter-system e-mail transfers began shortly after its creation in 1969.Ray Tomlinson is credited by some as having sent the first email, initiating the use of the "@" sign to separate the names of the user and the user's machine in 1971, when he sent a message from one Digital Equipment Corporation DEC-10 computer to another DEC-10. The two machines were placed next to each other. The ARPANET significantly increased the popularity of e-mail, and it became the killer app of the ARPANET.

Most other networks had their own email protocols and address formats; as the influence of the ARPANET and later the Internet grew, central sites often hosted email gateways that passed mail between the Internet and these other networks. Internet email addressing is still complicated by the need to handle mail destined for these older networks. Some well-known examples of these were UUCP (mostly Unix computers), BITNET (mostly IBM and VAX mainframes at universities), FidoNet (personal computers), DECNET (various networks) and CSNet a forerunner of NSFNet.

An example of an Internet email address that routed mail to a user at a UUCP host:


This was necessary because in early years UUCP computers did not maintain (or consult servers for) information about the location of all hosts they exchanged mail with, but rather only knew how to communicate with a few network neighbors; email messages (and other data such as Usenet News) were passed along in a chain among hosts who had explicitly agreed to share data with each other.

Message format

The Internet e-mail message format is defined in RFC 5322 and a series of RFCs, RFC 2045 through RFC 2049, collectively called, Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, or MIME. Although as of July 13, 2005, RFC 2822 is technically a proposed IETF standard and the MIME RFCs are draft IETF standards,[these documents are the standards for the format of Internet e-mail. Prior to the introduction of RFC 2822 in 2001, the format described by RFC 822 was the standard for Internet e-mail for nearly 20 years; it is still the official IETF standard. The IETF reserved the numbers 5321 and 5322 for the updated versions of RFC 2821 (SMTP) and RFC 2822, as it previously did with RFC 821 and RFC 822, honoring the extreme importance of these two RFCs. RFC 822 was published in 1982 and based on the earlier RFC 733.

Internet e-mail messages consist of two major sections:

• Header — Structured into fields such as summary, sender, receiver, and other information about the e-mail.
• Body — The message itself as unstructured text; sometimes containing a signature block at the end. This is exactly the same as the body of a regular letter.
The header is separated from the body by a blank line.

Message header

Each message has exactly one header, which is structured into fields. Each field has a name and a value. RFC 5322 specifies the precise syntax.

Informally, each line of text in the header that begins with a printable character begins a separate field. The field name starts in the first character of the line and ends before the separator character ":". The separator is then followed by the field value (the "body" of the field). The value is continued onto subsequent lines if those lines have a space or tab as their first character. Field names and values are restricted to 7-bit ASCII characters. Non-ASCII values may be represented using MIME encoded words.

Header fields

The message header should include at least the following fields:

• From: The e-mail address, and optionally the name of the author(s). In many e-mail clients not changeable except through changing account settings.
• To: The e-mail address(es), and optionally name(s) of the message's recipient(s). Indicates primary recipients (multiple allowed), for secondary recipients see Cc: and Bcc: below.
• Subject: A brief summary of the topic of the message.
• Date: The local time and date when the message was written. Like the From: field, many email clients fill this in automatically when sending. The recipient's client may then display the time in the format and time zone local to her.
• Message-ID: Also an automatically generated field; used to prevent multiple delivery and for reference in In-Reply-To: (see below).

Note that the "To:" field is not necessarily related to the addresses to which the message is delivered. The actual delivery list is supplied separately to the transport protocol, SMTP, which may or may not originally have been extracted from the header content. The "To:" field is similar to the addressing at the top of a conventional letter which is delivered according to the address on the outer envelope. Also note that the "From:" field does not have to be the real sender of the e-mail message. One reason is that it is very easy to fake the "From:" field and let a message seem to be from any mail address. It is possible to digitally sign e-mail, which is much harder to fake, but such signatures require extra programming and often external programs to verify. Some Internet service providers do not relay e-mail claiming to come from a domain not hosted by them, but very few (if any) check to make sure that the person or even e-mail address named in the "From:" field is the one associated with the connection. Some Internet service providers apply e-mail authentication systems to e-mail being sent through their MTA to allow other MTAs to detect forged spam that might appear to come from them.

RFC 3864 describes registration procedures for message header fields at the IANA; it provides for permanent and provisional message header field names, including also fields defined for MIME, netnews, and http, and referencing relevant RFCs. Common header fields for email include:

• Bcc: Blind Carbon Copy; addresses added to the SMTP delivery list but not (usually) listed in the message data, remaining invisible to other recipients.
• Cc: Carbon copy; Many e-mail clients will mark e-mail in your inbox differently depending on whether you are in the To: or Cc: list.
• Content-Type: Information about how the message is to be displayed, usually a MIME type.
• In-Reply-To: Message-ID of the message that this is a reply to. Used to link related messages together.
• Precedence: commonly with values "bulk", "junk", or "list"; used to indicate that automated "vacation" or "out of office" responses should not be returned for this mail, eg. to prevent vacation notices from being sent to all other subscribers of a mailinglist.
• Received: Tracking information generated by mail servers that have previously handled a message, in reverse order (last handler first).
• References: Message-ID of the message that this is a reply to, and the message-id of the message the previous was reply a reply to, etc.
• Reply-To: Address that should be used to reply to the message.
• Sender: Address of the actual sender acting on behalf of the author listed in the From: field (secretary, list manager, etc.).
• X-Face: Small icon.

Message body

Content encoding

E-mail was originally designed for 7-bit ASCII. Much e-mail software is 8-bit clean but must assume it will communicate with 8-bit servers and mail readers. The MIME standard introduced character set specifiers and two content transfer encodings to enable transmission of non-ASCII data: quoted printable for mostly 7 bit content with a few characters outside that range and base64 for arbitrary binary data. The 8BITMIME extension was introduced to allow transmission of mail without the need for these encodings but many mail transport agents still do not support it fully. In some countries, several encoding schemes coexist; as the result, by default, the message in a non-Latin alphabet language appears in non-readable form (the only exception is coincidence, when the sender and receiver use the same encoding scheme). Therefore, for international character sets, Unicode is growing in popularity.


In society

There are numerous ways in which people have changed the way they communicate in the last 50 years; e-mail is certainly one of them. Traditionally, social interaction in the local community was the basis for communication – face to face. Yet, today face-to-face meetings are no longer the primary way to communicate as one can use a landline telephone, mobile phones or any number of the computer mediated communications such as e-mail.

Research has shown that people actively use e-mail to maintain core social networks, particularly when others live at a distance. However, contradictory to previous research, the results suggest that increases in Internet usage are associated with decreases in other modes of communication, with proficiency of Internet and e-mail use serving as a mediating factor in this relationship.With the introduction of chat messengers and video conference there are more ways to communicate.


Flaming occurs when a person sends a message with angry or antagonistic content. Flaming is assumed to be more common today because of the ease and impersonality of e-mail communications: confrontations in person or via telephone require direct interaction, where social norms encourage civility, whereas typing a message to another person is an indirect interaction, so civility may be forgotten. Flaming is generally looked down upon by Internet communities as it is considered rude and non-productive.

E-mail bankruptcy

Also known as "e-mail fatigue", e-mail bankruptcy is when a user ignores a large number of e-mail messages after falling behind in reading and answering them. The reason for falling behind is often due to information overload and a general sense there is so much information that it is not possible to read it all. As a solution, people occasionally send a boilerplate message explaining that the e-mail inbox is being cleared out. Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig is credited with coining this term, but he may only have popularized it.

In business

E-mail was widely accepted by the business community as the first broad electronic communication medium and was the first ‘e-revolution’ in business communication. E-mail is very simple to understand and like postal mail, e-mail solves two basic problems of communication: logistics and synchronization (see below). LAN based email is also an emerging form of usage for business. It not only allows the business user to download mail when offline, it also provides the small business user to have multiple users e-mail ID's with just one e-mail connection.

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