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Mail accross the internet or any network for that matter is pretty simple. There are a few entities but the concepts aren't that complex. Most of the complexities in the internet mail framework is keeping bad guys out.

There are two major entities that handle mail.

  • MTA - Mail Transfer Agent
  • MUA - Mail User Agent

CREATED 2016-12-09 03:57:09.0


UPDATED 2016-12-09 03:57:17.0

The MTA...

The Mail Transfer Agent is what moves mail accross the network and the internet i.e. around the world. Most MTAs use the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) as outlined in RFC 2821

RFC 821 and 2821 are about the protocol to transmit mail over the wire. The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) which isn't so simple anymore.

CREATED 2016-12-09 18:42:54.0


UPDATED 2016-12-09 21:40:18.0

The MUA...

The Mail User Agent is the front end of any mail system. It is what gets the mail once it is tucked away in a mail box by a MTA, after its journey.

The original RFC to cover email back in the ARPAnet days was RFC 733, Standard for the Format of ARPA Network Text Messages - 1977. It was replaced by RFC 822 of the same title in 1982. email was called text messaging back then... look at the title of the RFCs. Of course, what we call text messaging or texting is a completely different story.

RFC 822 and 2822 deal with the format of a message transmitted over the wire.

CREATED 2016-12-09 03:58:34.0


UPDATED 2016-12-09 21:43:17.0

And Then...

The email system exploded since the old days with the advent of MIME content, etc. It grew so much that the original RFC 822 needed to address more... before it got out of hand. So the folks at IETF published a new guide to email, RFC 2822. Since the governemt folded up the ARPAnet which gave way to the internet, they just called it Internet Message Format. Published in 2001.

CREATED 2016-12-09 04:06:53.0


UPDATED 2016-12-09 04:07:01.0



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