Electronic mail which is famous as e-mail, as it is known to its number of users, has been around for more than two decades. Before 1990, it was mainly used in academia. During the 1990s, it became popular to the public at large and grew exponentially to the point where the number of e-mails sent per day now is immensely more than the number of snail mail (that is paper) letters.
E-mail, similar to most other forms of the communication, has conventions and styles its own. In particular, it is quite informal and has the low threshold of use. People who could never dream of calling up or even writing a letter to a especially Important Person do not hesitate for a second to send a sloppily-written e-mail.
E-mail is full with the jargon such as ROTFL (Rolling On The Floor Laughing), an IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) BTW (By The Way). Number of people also uses little ASCII symbols which are commonly known as smiley's or emoticons in their e-mail.
The first e-mail systems simply comprised of the file transfer protocols, with the convention with the first line of each message (which is file) contained the recipient's address. As time passed, the limitations of this approach became much more obvious.
Some of the complaints were as written below:
1. Sending a message to the group of people was very much inconvenient. Managers often required this facility to send memos to all of the subordinates.
2. Messages did not have internal structure, making computer processing complicated. For instance, if a forwarded message was included in the body of any other message, extracting the forwarded part from received message was complex.
3. The originator (sender) never knew if a message had come or not.
4. If someone was scheduling to be away on business for several weeks and wanted all the incoming e-mail to be handled by his secretary, this was not at all easy to arrange.
5. The user interface was very poorly integrated with the transmission system desiring users first to edit the file, then leave the editor and appeal to the file transfer program.
6. It was not achievable to create and send messages the containing a mixture of the text, drawings, facsimile, and voice.
As experience and was gained, more elaborate e-mail systems were introduced. In 1982, the ARPANET e-mail ideas were published as the RFC 821 (which is transmission protocol) and RFC 822 (which is message format). Minor revisions in the, RFC 2821 and RFC 2822, have become the Internet standards, but everyone still refers to Internet e-mail as RFC 822.
In 1984, the CCITT drafted its own X.400 proposal. After the two decades of the competition, e- mail systems based on the RFC 822 are commonly used, whereas those based on the X.400 have vanished. How a system hacked together by the handful of computer science graduate students beat the official international standard powerfully backed by all the PTTs in the world, a lot of governments, and a considerable part of the computer industry brings to mind the Biblical story of the David and Goliath.
The reason for the RFC 822's success is not that it is very good, but that X.400 was so weakly designed and so complex that nobody could execute it well. Given the choice between a simple- minded, but working, RFC 822-based e-mail system and a allegedly truly wonderful, but nonworking, X.400 e-mail system, most of the organizations chose the previous.