Suggested solution to the naming, addressing, and delivery problem for ARPANET message systems (RFC0757)
Original Publication Date: 1979-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-14
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
A Suggested Solution to the Naming, Addressing, and Delivery Problem for ARPAnet Message Systems
Debra P. Deutsch
10 September 1979
Bolt Beranek and Newman
50 Moulton Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Preface Page 1
Unlike many RFCs, this is not a specification of a soon-to-be-implemented protocol. Instead this is a true request for comments on the concepts and suggestions found within this document, written with the hope that its content, and any discussion which it spurs, will contribute towards the design of the next generation of computer-based message creation and delivery systems.
A number of people have made contributions to the form and content of this document. In particular, I would like to thank Jerry Burchfiel for his general and technical advice and encouragement, Bob Thomas for his wisdom about the TIP Login database and design of a netmail database, Ted Myer for playing devil’s advocate, and Charlotte Mooers for her excellent editorial assistance.
RFC 757 September 1979
Introduction Page 2
The current ARPAnet message handling scheme has evolved from rather informal, decentralized beginnings. Early developers took advantage of pre-existing tools -- TECO, FTP -- in order to implement their first systems. Later, protocols were developed to codify the conventions already in use. While these conventions have been able to support an amazing variety and amount of service, they have a number of shortcomings.
One difficulty is the naming/addressing problem, which deals with the need both to identify the recipient and to indicate correctly a delivery point for the message. The current paradigm is deficient in that it lacks a sharp distinction between the recipient’s name and the recipient’s address, which is the delivery point on the net.
The naming/addressing scheme does not allow users to address their messages using human names, but instead forces them to employ designations better designed for machine parsing than human identification.
Another source of limitations lies in the delivery system, which is simply an extension of the File Transfer Protocol. The delivery system is fairly limited in its operation, handling only simple transactions involving the transfer of a single message to a single user on the destination host. The ability to bundle messages and the ability to fan-out messages at the foreign host would improve the efficiency and usefulness of the system.
An additional drawback to the delivery system is caused, to some extent, by the addressing scheme. A change in address, or incorrect address usually causes the delivery system to handle the message incorrectly. While some hosts support some variety of a mail forwarding database (MFDB), this solution is at best inadequate and spotty for providing reliable service to the network as a whole. Because the same username may belong to different people at different hosts, ambiguities which may crop up when message...