[TUHS] attachments: MIME and uuencode

Dan Cross crossd at gmail.com
Sun Mar 12 11:14:40 AEST 2017

On Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 6:05 PM, Mary Ann Horton <mah at mhorton.net> wrote:

> Possible?  Yes.  Convenient?  No.
> You could cat several uuencode files together and send them in one email.
> You'd have to edit them on the receiving end into separate files and
> uudecode them separately.  In practice, you'd uuencode a tarball.
> MIME was a major advance, and what's telling is that 25 years later,
> SMTP/MIME is still the standard.

This is so interesting. Not to be argumentative about it but I felt it was
actually something of a regression. Something like making a file available
via an FTP server (possible in an executable but unreadable directory with
an obscure name) or just in some directory in an organization where a
filesystem was shared and sending a pointer to the file via email seemed
much more efficient, particularly if one was sending to multiple
recipients. Attaching files to email as MIME components felt like trying to
turn email into a filesystem, and SMTP into a file transfer protocol. The
way I saw it, email was email and we already had file transfer protocols....

It seemed like MIME really took off when Microsoft embraced it; before
that, plain ol' text seemed much more common. My sense at the time was that
networked filesystems and services like FTP (or the then-nascent HTTP) were
far less commonplace on the MS platform, so email as a content distribution
mechanism was more natural in that world. I was somewhat dismayed at the
inability to make Windows users see the light; in retrospect, of course,
this just means that I myself was missing something critical.

Mary Ann, why did you consider it such a step forward? I'm really curious
about the reasoning from folks involved with such things at the time.

        - Dan C.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://minnie.tuhs.org/pipermail/tuhs/attachments/20170311/236ac744/attachment.html>

More information about the TUHS mailing list