We in the ARPA community (and no doubt many others outside it) have come to realize that we have in our hands something very big, and possibly very important. It is now plain to all of us that message service over computer networks has enormous potential for changing the way communication is done in all sectors of our society.
– T.H. Myer, D.W. Dodds, “Notes on the Development of Message Technology,” Berkeley Workshop on Distributed Data Management and Computer Networks, LBL-5315, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, 1976. (Cited in: Ian R. Hardy; The Evolution of ARPANET email; History Thesis; University of California at Berkeley; Spring, 1996).
In 1996, for the first time, more electronic mail was sent than postal mail in the U.S. Almost from its creation, email has been the most widely used Internet application, and in that respect can claim to be the most important. These same capabilities also underlie the technology of mailing lists. The following sections describe the key features of email.