[TUHS] attachments: MIME and uuencode

Tim Bradshaw tfb at tfeb.org
Sun Mar 12 23:53:55 AEST 2017

> On 11 Mar 2017, at 19:07, Mary Ann Horton <mah at mhorton.net> wrote:
> When MIME came out in 1992 I became a champion of SMTP/MIME as a standard - it was a big improvement.  But uuencod predated MIME by 12 years.

Somewhere I may have a copy of a rant I wrote in about 1995 called 'MIME as a disease vector'.   It argued that the single biggest thing that MIME did was to establish the Windows/Office monopoly, and that this was why MS were so enthusiastic about it.  It did this by making it trivial for a Windows user to send documents in Office formats which, if you wanted to read or modify them, required you to use Windows.  Thus the disease (proprietary formats and monopolies) was effectively spread by MIME.

I still think it's essentially correct, although I would not now use such loaded wording, and also clearly this was just inevitable: MIME or some equivalent way of sending typed binary data by email was useful, and this undesirable consequence unavoidable.  Looking at things from the other side of the Windows monopoly period it all looks less horrible as well: Windows didn't end up killing Unix even.


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