Share This
« Back to Glossary Index

Email, a vital communication tool since its introduction in 1975, has become an integral part of our daily lives. This system functions over computer networks and the internet[1], enabling global message transmission and reception. While ’email’ is the commonly accepted term in style guides, variations such as ‘E-mail’ are occasionally used, especially in American and British English contexts. The process of this system includes a sender composing a message via a Mail User Agent (MUA), which then sends it to the recipient’s mail exchange server. The recipient’s MUA subsequently retrieves the message. Thanks to the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME), emails can now include multimedia content. For safety, email systems employ a store-and-forward model, whereby email servers receive, forward, store, and deliver messages. This method facilitates email exchanges without requiring users to be online simultaneously.

Terms definitions
1. internet. The Internet, a global network of interconnected computer systems, utilizes standardized communication protocols, predominantly TCP/IP, to connect devices across the globe. The term 'Internet' has its roots in the 1849 term 'internetted' and was later adopted by the US War Department in 1945. The inception of the Internet can be traced back to the 1960s when computer scientists developed time-sharing systems, which eventually led to the creation of ARPANET in 1969. The Internet operates autonomously, without any central control, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages its primary name spaces. It has revolutionized traditional communication methods and has seen an exponential growth, with the number of internet users growing by 20% to 50% every year. In 2019, more than half of the global population was using the Internet. The Internet protocol suite, comprising TCP/IP and four conceptual layers, directs internet packets to their intended destinations. Fundamental services such as email and Internet telephony function on the Internet. The World Wide Web, an extensive network of interconnected documents, serves as a crucial element of the Internet.
Email (Wikipedia)

Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of transmitting and receiving messages using electronic devices. It was conceived in the late–20th century as the digital version of, or counterpart to, mail (hence e- + mail). Email is a ubiquitous and very widely used communication medium; in current use, an email address is often treated as a basic and necessary part of many processes in business, commerce, government, education, entertainment, and other spheres of daily life in most countries.

This screenshot shows the "Inbox" page of an email client; users can see new emails and take actions, such as reading, deleting, saving, or responding to these messages.
When a "robot" on Wikipedia makes changes to image files, the uploader receives an email about the changes made.

Email operates across computer networks, primarily the Internet, and also local area networks. Today's email systems are based on a store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store messages. Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need to connect, typically to a mail server or a webmail interface to send or receive messages or download it.

Originally an ASCII text-only communications medium, Internet email was extended by Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) to carry text in other character sets and multimedia content attachments. International email, with internationalized email addresses using UTF-8, is standardized but not widely adopted.

« Back to Glossary Index
Keep up with updates