2.919: commercial e-mail (41)

Tue, 2 May 89 20:14:21 EDT

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 919. Tuesday, 2 May 1989.

Date: Tue, 2 May 89 08:06 EST
Subject: commercial e-mail

Business Week, May 8, 1989, pp 135-9 reports on status of commercial e-
mail. After sputtering along for a decade, the major players finally
have agreed on a standard. Western Union's EASYLINE, GTE's Telenet,
British Telecom's Dialcom, MCI Mail, and AT&T Mail, will all use
standard X.400 for interchanging mail between systems. Combined they
have about 700,000 mailboxes. Corporate systems (IBM and Digital)
have 3 million more. Pressure for uniformity came from users who
demand the capability of interconnections (as did telephone users a
century ago). 3 billion messages were sent last year, nearly all
inside their respective systems. With easy interchange, there may be
16 billion messages by 1992, and ?? 60 billion by 2000. Cost runs
about $1/page, which (taking phone bills into account) is comparable
to FAX.
Can e-mail catch up with FAX? Troubles; it will be 4 years before a
common phone book (X.500) is available (why so long?) Worse, there
are 600,000 local PC networks in US (LANs), 10% with their own e-mail.
None connect with X.400.
---Query: where does Bitnet fit into this? Is/will Bitnet be
compatible with X.400 so that we can communicate outside the academic
community? (Note that right now any two fax users can easily contact
each other.) Will e-mail catch on outside professional/business world?
Is BITNET the poor academic's Fax? If Fax prices fall much further
will we just give up on Bitnet and e-mail? (That seems unlikely: we
would compose on computer, print on printer, then run the output
through a fax? Has anybody tried using a PC-fax board?) And if e-
mail does catch on widely, will the commercial outfits squeeze out
"free lunch" Bitnet? (Note how commercial software has largely
squeezed out shareware.)