[ih] Historical Tracing from Concept to Reality over 5 decades?

Dave Crocker dhc at dcrocker.net
Mon Jul 6 13:24:03 PDT 2020

> Bob Kahn said something along the lines that email on the ARPANET was
> something that was not planned but kinda "evolved" by "accident" -- i.e.
> was not something that was a part of the conception/technical idea in the
> inception/purpose of the creation/need for the ARPANET.

The Licklider/Taylor 1968 paper, The Computer as a Communication Device 
doesn't explicitly mention electronic mail.

But it does, arguably, imply it.

Papers like this never offer much low-level detail -- and I class the 
specifics of what we now call email as low level.  What specific details 
they do offer often seem quaint, when compared against the eventual 
reality.  But the vision sets a framework for thinking and a direction 
of pursue.  It tends to dictate certain types of activities and 
outcomes, no matter what the eventual implementations looks like.  In 
that regard, I'd consider messaging, like email, to be a strong 
implication of their vision work.

Also, since email was an integral part of the FTP effort in 1971, it's 
difficult to call it an accident.

On the other hand, Ray's opportunistic cleverness definitely /was/ 
accidental.  Especially as compared against the more elaborate 
(cumbersome) approach others were considering.  But again, that's a 
matter of the low-level detail.

Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking

More information about the Internet-history mailing list