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[9fans] Ancient History: "Electronic Mail Without Aliases"

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Feb 11, 2013, 2:39:16 AM2/11/13
Does anyone on the list have a copy of or pointer to
"Electronic Mail Without Aliases", by Elliott and Lesk?
It's referenced in the 8th Edition Unix manual, but
I've never read it (and only have vol1 of the manual).

michaelian ennis

Feb 26, 2013, 2:25:07 AM2/26/13
Maybe it was unpublished? It isn't listed on Professor Lesk's published works page. 


Devon H. O'Dell

Feb 26, 2013, 2:35:32 AM2/26/13
2013/2/26 Devon H. O'Dell <>:

FWIW, I googled "Electronic Mail Without Aliases" and only found the
references you speak of. So I googled "Electronic Mail" Elliott Lesk,
and found a README that referenced the directory of the paper. So I
googled the directory and presto chango. Took about 3 minutes.

Also in that directory is a paper "The Second Pass of the Portable C
Compiler" by John Lions, from 1979. TUHS has cool stuff.


Devon H. O'Dell

Feb 26, 2013, 2:28:36 AM2/26/13

Richard Miller

Feb 26, 2013, 3:55:19 AM2/26/13
"An average mail message to a remote site takes 6.8 seconds
of 11/70 CPU time ..."

Those were the days.

Charles Forsyth

Feb 26, 2013, 4:33:34 AM2/26/13

On 26 February 2013 07:35, Devon H. O'Dell <> wrote:
So I
googled the directory and presto chango. Took about 3 minutes.

The dates on the file and the file with the e-mail exchange with Lesk suggests the file only turned up there on 14 Feb this year,
which probably explains why it wasn't quite so visible before.

Feb 26, 2013, 4:35:11 AM2/26/13

I'll take the credit for this. :-)

I asked on the TUHS list, was pointed to Mike Lesk, asked him for the
paper, and he graciously supplied it. A few people on that list (also
on 9fans) supplied pointers to PDF they were able to generate.

It was an interesting read. It is absolutely amazing how much was
accomplished with so little (a hypothetical dedicated mail machine that would
only need 5 meg of disk... :-).

If one phrase sums up the Unix and Plan 9 philosophies, it would have to be:

Small Is Beautiful


Anthony Sorace

Feb 26, 2013, 10:13:20 AM2/26/13
Yes, this was all put up in response to Arnold's forwarding my inquiry. I wasn't on the mail where permission for posting was given, so wasn't sure how widely to publicize the delivery. Now that that's all cleared up: much thanks to Arnold for tracking this down (and Mike Lesk, of course).

I have several friends who worked in AT&T's (and later Lucent's) "post group", which I'm fairly sure was created in response to this idea growing larger than the paper anticipated. That group also created the pq database to run the thing, version 4 of which, written chiefly by Michael Baldwin and packaged by Matthew Diaz, is sitting in "extra" on sources. I've been working through unifying two divergent branches of that in preparation for release, which is what had me asking after the historical context.

The exercised turned up some minor bugs in our -ms implementation:
1) The TM cover page wasn't reworked for the fact that the Lucent logo is much larger than the AT&T one, so it stomps on some header text.
2) Font changes on cover sheets (at least under TM) in .DS displays aren't reset on .DE; they are in the body. Pretty sure the body behavior is correct.
3) The logos are Lucent, not ALU. That may or may not be a bug. :-)

Also, the paper used PO fonts we don't seem to have. I swapped in CW and things look like I'd expect. If anyone knows what the old PO looked like and can suggest a better substitute, please do. #s 1 and 3 above clearly only matter to people writing things for ALU. I took a crack at fixing #2, but my troff isn't up to it.
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