Opinion: Is It Time to Replace SMTP? by Dave Crocker (Brandenburg InternetWorking)

The first Internet (ARPANET) e-mail, sent 35 years ago, was remarkably similar to a basic text e-mail of today: From, To, CC, Subject, Date, followed by lines of text, and the familiar @-sign in addresses. The right side of the address changed from a simple string into the multilevel domain name that we now use. The body can now be a set of multimedia attachments rather than just lines of text, but it can still be in its original, simpler form. The means of moving mail was the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) in the early 1970s. The current mechanism, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) [1a, 1b], was not created until 10 years later, but a mere 25 years of use is not bad, either.
All of the technical specifications for e-mail have undergone many changes over the years, but a core requirement has been to protect the installed base of users and operators by incrementally adding features as options, rather than by performing wholesale replacement of any infrastructure service component. E-mail has changed the way we communicate, yet it is also now viewed as having a serious problem: As the Internet grew, it acquired the full mixture of participants, some of whom do not make nice neighbors.

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