Email (Electronic Mail)

Email IconShort for electronic mail, email (or e-mail) is defined as the transmission of messages over communications networks. Typically the messages are notes entered from the keyboard or electronic files stored on disk. Most mainframes, minicomputers, and computer networks have an email system.

Some electronic mail systems are confined to a single computer system or network, but others have gateways to other computer systems, enabling users to send electronic mail anywhere in the world. Companies that are fully computerized make extensive use of e-mail because it is fast, flexible, and reliable.

Recommended Reading: Webopedia’s webmail definition.

Typical Components of an Email System

Most email systems include a rudimentary text editor for composing messages, but many allow you to edit your messages using any editor you want. Some systems will also provide basic formatting, including bold, italics, font color and HTML. You can use the program to send the message to a recipient by specifying the recipient’s address. You can also send the same message to several users at once. This is called broadcasting.

Sent messages are stored in electronic mailboxes until the recipient fetches them. To see if you have any mail, you may have to check your electronic mailbox periodically, although many systems alert you when mail is received. After reading your mail, you can store it in a text file, forward it to other users, or delete it. Copies of memos can be printed out on a printer if you want a paper copy.

Email Provided by Online Services and ISPs

email-definitionAll online services and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer email, and most also support gateways so that you can exchange mail with users of other systems. Usually, it takes only a few seconds or minutes for mail to arrive at its destination. This is a particularly effective way to communicate with a group because you can broadcast a message or document to everyone in the group at once.

Although different email systems use different formats, there are some emerging standards that are making it possible for users on all systems to exchange messages. In the PC world, an important e-mail standard is MAPI. The CCITT standards organization has developed the X.400 standard, which attempts to provide a universal way of addressing messages.

To date, though, the de facto addressing standard is the one used by the Internet system because almost all e-mail systems have an Internet gateway.

Recommended Reading: Webopedia’s spam definition.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

Top Articles

List of Windows Operating System Versions & History [In Order]

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

Website Shortcut on Your Desktop reviewed by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a website shortcut on your desktop using...

What are the Five Generations of Computers? (1st to 5th)

Reviewed by Web Webster Each generation of computer has brought significant advances in speed and power to computing tasks. Learn about each of the...

Hotmail [Outlook] Email Accounts

Launched in 1996, Hotmail was one of the first public webmail services that could be accessed from any web browser. At its peak in...

Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is a process that helps organizations determine the resources needed to...

Defense Advanced Research Projects...

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency...

XiaoBa Ransomware

XiaoBa is a type of file-encrypting ransomware that runs on Windows and encodes...