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Interactive Mail Access Protocol: Version 2 (RFC1176)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000001989D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-12
Document File: 24 page(s) / 61K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

M.R. Crispin: AUTHOR

Abstract

The intent of the Interactive Mail Access Protocol, Version 2 (IMAP2) is to allow a workstation, personal computer, or similar small machine to access electronic mail from a mailbox server. Since the distinction between personal computers and workstations is blurring over time, it is desirable to have a single solution that addresses the need in a general fashion. IMAP2 is the "glue" of a distributed electronic mail system consisting of a family of client and server implementations on a wide variety of platforms, from small single- tasking personal computing engines to complex multi-user timesharing systems.

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Network Working Group M. Crispin

Request for Comments: 1176 Washington

Obsoletes: RFC 1064 August 1990

INTERACTIVE MAIL ACCESS PROTOCOL - VERSION 2

Status of this Memo

This RFC suggests a method for personal computers and workstations to

dynamically access mail from a mailbox server ("repository"). It

obosoletes RFC 1064. This RFC specifies an Experimental Protocol for

the Internet community. Discussion and suggestions for improvement

are requested. Please refer to the current edition of the "IAB

Official Protocol Standards" for the standardization state and status

of this protocol. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Introduction

The intent of the Interactive Mail Access Protocol, Version 2 (IMAP2)

is to allow a workstation, personal computer, or similar small

machine to access electronic mail from a mailbox server. Since the

distinction between personal computers and workstations is blurring

over time, it is desirable to have a single solution that addresses

the need in a general fashion. IMAP2 is the "glue" of a distributed

electronic mail system consisting of a family of client and server

implementations on a wide variety of platforms, from small single-

tasking personal computing engines to complex multi-user timesharing

systems.

Although different in many ways from the Post Office Protocols (POP2

and POP3, hereafter referred to collectively as "POP") described in

RFC 937 and RFC 1081, IMAP2 may be thought of as a functional

superset of these. RFC 937 was used as a model for this RFC. There

was a cognizant reason for this; POP deals with a similar problem,

albeit with a less comprehensive solution, and it was desirable to

offer a basis for comparison.

Like POP, IMAP2 specifies a means of accessing stored mail and not of

posting mail; this function is handled by a mail transfer protocol

such as SMTP (RFC 821).

This protocol assumes a reliable data stream such as provided by TCP

or any similar protocol. When TCP is used, the IMAP2 server listens

on port 143.

System Model and Philosophy

Electronic mail is a primary means of communication for the widely

spread Internet community. The advent of distributed personal

computers and workstations has forced a significant rethinking of the

mechanisms employed to manage electronic mail. With mainframes, each

user tends to receive and process mail at the computer he uses most

of the time, his "primary host". The first inclination of many users

when an indepen...