Email

Email is short for ‘Electronic mail’ and was designed as a program used to exchange messages that are stored within a computer. In terms of the programming, these are usually encoded using ASCII text.[1] However, in most cases, a user can also send non-text files such as images, videos, and sound files through the mail as attachments. Email was one of the first ever features that was available on the internet and is still one of the most widely used features for a multitude of different sites because of its practicality in sending and receiving information from anywhere in the globe.[2] Emails work in the same functionality as that of traditional paper mail. An email account functions the same way as a mailbox in which the message is stored until it is read by the user.

Functionality

Emails are part of the protocols that are included in the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) which is a widely-known protocol that has been used when it comes to sending emails is the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol while another popular protocol for receiving information via email is the POP3.[3]There are a multitude of different programs and applications that have been specifically designed to access email accounts. A few examples include Microsoft Outlook for a desktop that has a Microsoft operating system, and the Gmail application on the smartphone which functions on either an iOS or Android system. This links directly to the email service of the user.[4]

There are different fields of data in an email that provide specific functions.[5]

Standard Fields

  • To: This field contains the email address where the message will be sent to. This functions to tell the mail server where the message will be sent. In order to send the message, To is a required field.
  • Subject: The subject is where the main idea of the message will be placed so that the user on the receiving end will be able to easily search for the message based on the content. Although not necessarily important in some modern-day email clients, such as Gmail, the subject helps in organizing files.
  • Body: The body is the most important part of the email. This is where the message will be written and includes all the necessary information which range from images, text, and file attachments.

Optional Fields

From: The composing user’s email address will be displayed in this section. In most cases, this cannot be changed unless the composing user has more than one email linked to the account.

Attachments: Other than having the message in the body of the email, attachments are where you will be uploading the files that should be sent along with the main message. Attachments could be images, videos, or other files.

CC: This is an abbreviation of Carbon Copy. With the CC, the composing user will be able to send the message to multiple email addresses other than the original recipient.

BCC: This stands for blind Carbon Copy. The BCC has the same functionality to that of the CC. Compared to the CC, however, the BCC keeps the names and email addresses to some of the recipients hidden. In most cases, people who are listed in the CC will appear as recipients. But the individuals who are listed in the BCC will not appear in the list of recipients.

Classification

  1. Email Program – This is a program that has been installed on the computer or the device (usually smartphones, PDAs, Tablets, etc.). In most cases, the email program is called the email client. There are several popular programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. Email programs use a stand-alone server that stores and delivers the messages of the user. This is usually hosted by an ISP, or in some cases, a company.

  2. Online Email – As compared to the email client, the online email (or most commonly called an email service or webmail) does not have to be installed on the computer or device. Instead, the Online email relies on a browser for navigation. Examples of online email services include Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Gmail, and many more. In most cases, these email services are free to use.[6]

Advantages

  1. Free Delivery – Compared to having a physical, traditional form of mail being delivered, sending an email does not cost any fees whatsoever; since there is no need to buy a postage stamp when you have to send your message.

  2. Global Delivery – An email can be accessed anywhere around the world. This means that if a user would access it from a different location that is distant from the original location, the message is still easily accessible.

  3. Instant Delivery – The traditional form of mail takes days or even weeks for messages to arrive to its destination. However, emails are sent real time and are received by the recipient in almost an instant. This makes information easily accessible. Also, users no longer have to wait for messages to arrive within days or weeks.

  4. File Attachment – The instant and free delivery of an email means that sending files, such as images, documents, videos, and sound files, will not be a problem. This also encourages the flow of information.

  5. Long-term storage - Having an email service means that you can view messages from years before. Since data is stored digitally, several files can be saved or archived through the email client.

  6. Resource–friendly – Not having to use any form of physical resources, such as paper and packing tape, means that there is no waste of resources. Moreover, this means that these resources can be allocated to more pressing matters.[7]

History

The first email program that was developed was in 1965 which was an MIT program that was known was “MAILBOX”. After a while, the US Department of Defense integrated the program to their military network and named it ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) since the program helped in the exchange of information without having to take into account physical factors. By 1993, the world “Electronic mail” had been replaced with email in the public dictionary.[8]


  1. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/24803/electronic-mail-e-mail ↩︎

  2. http://www.nethistory.info/History%20of%20the%20Internet/email.html ↩︎

  3. https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/e-mail-electronic-mail-or-email ↩︎

  4. https://www.readersdigest.co.uk/lifestyle/technology/everything-you-need-to-know-about-emails ↩︎

  5. https://websitebuilders.com/how-to/email-at-a-glance/how-email-works/ ↩︎

  6. https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/e/email.htm ↩︎

  7. https://www.computerhope.com/jargon/e/email.htm ↩︎

  8. https://phrasee.co/a-brief-history-of-email/ ↩︎