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RFC 753 - Internet Message Protocol


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                                                              March 1979

IEN: 85
RFC: 753

                       INTERNET MESSAGE PROTOCOL

                           Jonathan B. Postel

                               March 1979

                     Information Sciences Institute
                   University of Southern California
                           4676 Admiralty Way
                   Marina del Rey, California  90291

                             (213) 822-1511

< INC-PROJECT, MAIL-MAR-79.NLS.38, >, 31-Mar-79 19:50 JBP ;;;;

[Page 0]                                                          Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol

                           TABLE OF CONTENTS

    PREFACE ........................................................ iii

1.  INTRODUCTION ..................................................... 1

  1.1.  Motivation ................................................... 1
  1.2.  Scope ........................................................ 1
  1.3.  The Internetwork Environment ................................. 2
  1.4.  Operation .................................................... 2
  1.5.  Interfaces ................................................... 3

2.  FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION ........................................... 5

  2.1.  Relation to Other Protocols .................................. 5
  2.2.  Terminology  ................................................. 5
  2.3.  Assumptions .................................................. 6
  2.4.  General Specification ........................................ 7
  2.5.  Mechanisms .................................................. 11

3.  DETAILED SPECIFICATION .......................................... 13

  3.1.  Overview of Message Structure ............................... 13
  3.2.  Data Elements ............................................... 13
  3.3.  Message Objects ............................................. 16
  3.4.  Command ..................................................... 23
  3.5.  Document .................................................... 31
  3.6.  Message Structure ........................................... 33
  3.7.  MPM Organization ............................................ 36
  3.8.  Interfaces .................................................. 39

4.  EXAMPLES & SCENARIOS ............................................ 41

  Example 1:  Message Format ........................................ 41
  Example 2:  Delivery and Acknowledgment ........................... 43

GLOSSARY ............................................................ 49

REFERENCES .......................................................... 51

APPENDICES .......................................................... 53

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Internet Message Protocol

[Page ii]                                                         Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol

                                PREFACE

This is the first edition of this specification and should be treated as
a request for comments, advice, and suggestions.  A great deal of prior
work has been done on computer aided message systems and some of this is
listed in the reference section.  This specification was shaped by many
discusions with members of the ARPA research community, and others
interested in the development of computer aided message systems.  This
document was prepared as part of the ARPA sponsored Internetwork
Concepts Research Project at ISI, with the assistance of Greg Finn, Alan
Katz, Paul Mockapetris, and Mamie Chew.

                                                              Jon Postel

Postel                                                        [Page iii]

                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol

[Page iv]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
IEN: 85                                                        J. Postel
RFC: 753                                                         USC-ISI
                                                              March 1979

                       INTERNET MESSAGE PROTOCOL

                            1.  INTRODUCTION

This document describes an internetwork message system.  The system is
designed to transmit messages between message processing modules
according to formats and procedures specified in this document.  The
message processing modules are processes in host computers.  Message
processing modules are located in different networks and together
constitute an internetwork message delivery system.

This document is intended to provide all the information necessary to
implement a compatible cooperating module of this internetwork message
system.

1.1.  Motivation

  As computer supported message processing activities grow on individual
  host computers and in networks of computers, there is a natural desire
  to provide for the interconnection and interworking of such systems.
  This specification describes the formats and procedures of a general
  purpose internetwork message system, which can be used as a standard
  for the interconnection of individual message systems, or as a message
  system in its own right.

  We also provide for the communication of data items beyond the scope
  of contemporary message systems.  Messages can include typed segments
  which could represent drawings, or facsimile images, or digitized
  speech.  One can imagine message stations equipped with speakers and
  microphones (or telephone hand sets) where the body of a message or a
  portion of it is recorded digitized speech.  The output terminal could
  include a graphics display, and the message might present a drawing on
  the display, and verbally (via the speaker) describe certain features
  of the drawing.  This specification provides basic data elements for
  the transmission of structured binary data, as well as providing for
  text transmission.

1.2.  Scope

  The Internet Message Protocol is intended to be used for the
  transmission of messages between networks.  It may also be used for
  the local message system of a network or host.  This specification was
  developed in the context of the ARPA work on the interconnection of
  networks, but it is anticipated that it has a more general scope.

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Internet Message Protocol
Introduction

  The focus here is on the internal mechanisms to transmit messages,
  rather than the external interface to users.  It is assumed that a
  number of user interface programs will exist.  These will be both new
  programs designed to work with system and old programs designed to
  work with earlier systems.

1.3.  The Internetwork Environment

  The internetwork message environment consists of processes which run
  in hosts which are connected to networks which are interconnected by
  gateways.  Each individual network consists of many different hosts.
  The networks are tied together through gateways.  The gateways are
  essentially hosts on two (or more) networks and are not assumed to
  have much storage capacity or to "know" which hosts are on the
  networks to which they are attached [5].

1.4.  Operation

  The model of operation is that this protocol is implemented in a
  process.  Such a process is called a Message Processing Module or MPM.
  The MPMs exchange messages by establishing full duplex communication
  and sending the messages in a fixed format described in this document.
  The MPM may also communicate other information by means of commands
  described here.

  A message is formed by a user interacting with a User Interface
  Program or UIP.  The user may utilize several commands to create
  various fields of the message and may invoke an editor program to
  correct or format some or all of the message.  Once the user is
  satisfied with the messages it is "sent" by placing it in a data
  structure shared with the MPM.

  The MPM discovers the unprocessed input data (either by a specific
  request or by a general background search), examines it, and using
  routing tables determines which outgoing link to use.  The destination
  may be another user on this host, a user on another host in this
  network, or a user in another network.

  In the first case, another user on this host, the MPM places the
  message in a data structure shared with the destination user, where
  that user's UIP will look for incoming messages.

  In the second case, the user on another host in this network, the MPM
  transmits the message to the MPM on that host.  That MPM then repeats
  the routing decision, and discovering the destination is local to it,
  places the messages in the data structure shared with the destination
  user.

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                            Introduction

  In the third case, the user on a host in another network, the MPM
  transmits the messages to an MPM in that network if it knows how to
  establish a connection directly to it, otherwise the MPM transmits the
  message to an MPM that is "closer" to the destination.  An MPM might
  not know of direct connections to MPMs in all other networks, but it
  must be able to select a next MPM to handle the message for each
  possible destination network.

  A MPM might know a way to establish direct connections to each of a
  few MPMs in other nearby networks, and send all other messages to a
  particular big brother MPM that has a wider knowledge of the internet
  environment.

  A individual network's message system may be quite different from the
  internet message system.  In this case, intranet messages will be
  delivered using the network's own message system.  If a message is
  addressed outside the network, it is given to a MPM which then sends
  it through the appropriate gateways via internet procedures and format
  to (or toward) the MPM in the destination network.  Eventually, the
  message gets to a MPM on the network of the recipient of the message.
  The message is then sent via the local message system to that host.

  When local message protocols are used, special conversion programs are
  required to transform local messages to internet format when they are
  going out, and to transform internet messages to local format when
  they come into the local environment.  Such transformations are
  potentially information lossy.  The internet message format attempts
  to provide features to capture all the information any local message
  system might use.  However, a particular local message system is
  unlikely to have features equivalent to all the possible features of
  the internet message system.  Thus, in some cases the transformation
  of an internet message to a local message discard of some of the
  information.  For example, if an internet message carrying mixed text
  and speech data in the body is to be delivered in a local system which
  only carries text, the speech data may be replaced by the text string
  "There was some speech here".  Such discarding of information is to be
  avoided when at all possible, and to be defered as long as possible,
  still the possibility remains, that in some cases, it is the only
  reasonable thing to do.

1.5.  Interfaces

  The MPM calls on a reliable communication procedure to communicate
  with other MPMs.  This is a Transport Level protocol such as the TCP
  [20].  The interface to such a procedure conventionally provides calls
  to open and close connections, send and receive data on a connection,
  and some means to signal and be notified of special conditions (i.e.,
  interrupts).

Postel                                                          [Page 3]

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Internet Message Protocol
Introduction

  The MPM receives input and produces output through data structures
  that are produced and consumed respectively by user interface (or
  other) programs.

[Page 4]                                                          Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol

                       2.  FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION

2.1.  Terminology

  The basic unit transferred between networks is called a message.  A
  message is made up of a transaction identifier (a number which
  uniquely identifies the message), a command list (which contains the
  necessary information for delivery), and the document list.  The
  document list consists of a header and a body, which contains the
  actual data of the message.

  For a personal letter the document body corresponds to the contents
  the a letter, the document header corresponds to the the address and
  return address on the envelope.

  For an inter-office memo the document body corresponds to the text,
  the document header corresponds to the header of the memo.

  The commands correspond to the information used by the Post Office or
  the mail room to route the letter or memo.

  The messages are routed by a process called the message processing
  module or MPM.  Messages are created and consumed by User Interface
  Programs (UIPs) in conjunction with users.

  Please see the Glossary section for a more complete list of
  terminology.

2.2.  Assumptions

  The following assumptions are made about the internetwork environment:

  It is in general not known what format intranet addresses will assume.
  Since no standard addressing scheme would suit all networks, it is
  safe to assume there will be several and that they will change with
  time.  Thus, frequent software modification throughout all internet
  MPMs would be required if such MPMs were to know about the formats on
  many networks.  Therefore, each MPM which handles internet messages is
  required to know only the minimum necessary to deliver them.

  We require each MPM to know completely only the addressing format of
  its own network.  In addition, the MPM must be able to select an
  output link for each message addressed to another network or host.
  This does not preclude more intelligent behavior on the part of a
  given MPM, but at least this minimum is necessary.  Each network has a
  unique name and number.

  Each MPM will have a unique internet address.  This feature will

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Internet Message Protocol
Functional Description

  enable every MPM to place a unique "handling-stamp" on a message which
  passes through it en-route to delivery.

2.3.  General Specification

  There are several aspects to a distributed service to be specified.
  First there is the service to be provided, that is, the
  characteristics of the service as seen by its users.  Second there is
  the service it uses, that is, the characteristics it assumes to be
  provided by some lower level service.  And, third there is the
  protocol used between the modules of the distributed service.

       User                                          User       
          \                                          /          
           \                                        /           
            \                                      /            
         --+----------------------------------------+-- Service 
           !   \                                /   ! Interface 
           !  +--------+                +--------+  !           
           !  ! Module ! <--Protocol--> ! Module !  !           
           !  +--------+                +--------+  !           
           !        \                       /       !           
           !        +-----------------------+       !           
           !        ! Communication Service !       !           
           !        +-----------------------+       !           
           !                                        !           
           +----------------------------------------+           

                            Message Service

                               Figure 1.

  The User/Message Service Interface

    The service the message delivery system provides is to accept
    messages conforming to a specified format and to attempt to deliver
    those messages, and to report on the success or failure of the
    delivery attempt.  This service is provided in the context of an
    interconnected system of networks, and may involve relaying a
    message through several intermediate MPMs utilizing different
    communication services.

  The Message/Communication Service Interface

    The message delivery system calls on a communication service to
    transfer information from one MPM to another.  There may be
    different communication services used between different pairs of

[Page 6]                                                          Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                  Functional Description

    MPMs, though all communication services must meet the following
    service characteristics.

    It is assumed that the communication service provides a reliable two
    way data stream.  Such a data stream can usually be obtained in
    computer networks from the transport level protocol, for example,
    the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) [20].  In any case the
    properties the communication service must provide are:

      o  Logical connections for two way simultaneous data flow of
         arbitrary data (i.e., no forbidden codes).  Data is delivered
         in the order sent with no gaps.

      o  Simple commands to open and close the connections, and to send
         and receive data on the connections.

      o  A way to signal and be notified "out-of-band" (such as TCP's
         urgent) is available so that some messages can be labeled "more
         important" than others.

      o  Controlled flow of data so that data is not transmitted faster
         that the receiver chooses to consume it (on the average).

      o  Transmission errors are corrected without user notification or
         involvement.  Complete breakdown on communication is reported
         to the user.

  The Message-Message Protocol

    The protocol used between the distributed modules of the message
    delivery system, that is, the MPMs is a small set of commands which
    convey requests and replies.  These commands are encoded in a highly
    structured and rigidly specified format.

2.4.  Mechanisms

  MPMs are processes which use some communication service.  A pair of
  MPMs which can communicate reside in a common interprocess
  communication environment.  A MPM might exist in two (or more)
  interprocess communication environments, and such an MPM might act to
  relay messages between MPMs in the environments.

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Internet Message Protocol
Functional Description

     User                                                    User 
       \                                                      /   
        \                                                    /    
         \                                                  /     
      +---------------------------------------------------------+ 
      !    \                                              /     ! 
      !  +-----+                +-----+                +-----+  ! 
      !  ! MPM ! <--Protocol--> ! MPM ! <--Protocol--> ! MPM !  ! 
      !  +-----+                +-----+                +-----+  ! 
      !     !                    /   \                    !     ! 
      !  +-----------------------+   +-----------------------+  ! 
      !  !Communication Service A!   !Communication Service B!  ! 
      !  +-----------------------+   +-----------------------+  ! 
      !                                                         ! 
      +---------------------------------------------------------+ 

                 Message Service with Internal Relaying

                               Figure 2.

  The transfer of data between UIPs and MPMs is conceived of as the
  exchange of data structures which encode messages.  The transfer of
  data between MPMs is also in terms of the transmission of structured
  data.

[Page 8]                                                          Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                  Functional Description

                    +-----+     DATA       +-----+         
             USER-->! UIP !-->STRUCTURES-->! MPM !-->other 
                    +-----+    +-----+     +-----+    MPMs 
                               !     !                     
                               !  +-----+                  
                               +--!     !                  
                                  !  +-----+               
                                  +--!     !               
                                     !     !               
                                     +-----+               

                     +-----+     DATA       +-----+        
             other-->! MPM !-->STRUCTURES-->! UIP !-->USER 
             MPMs    +-----+    +-----+     +-----+        
                                !     !                    
                                !  +-----+                 
                                +--!     !                 
                                   !  +-----+              
                                   +--!     !              
                                      !     !              
                                      +-----+              

                              Message Flow

                               Figure 3.

  In the following, a message will be described as a structured data
  object represented in a particular kind of typed data elements.  This
  is how a message is presented when transmitted between MPMs or
  exchanged between an MPM and a UIP.  Internal to a MPM (or a UIP), a
  message may be represented in any convenient form.  As the following
  figure shows, when a message is ready for transmission, it moves from
  the processing routines to be encoded in the typed data elements and
  then to a data compression routine, and is finally transmitted.  On
  the receiving side, the message is first decompressed then decoded
  from the data element representation to the local representation for
  the processing routines.

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Internet Message Protocol
Functional Description

          +------------------------------------------------+ 
          !                                                ! 
          !  processing      DATA         DATA             ! 
          !  routines   ---> ENCODER ---> COMPRESSOR --->  ! 
          !                                                ! 
          +------------------------------------------------+ 
                             Send MPM                        

          +------------------------------------------------+ 
          !                                                ! 
          !      DATA              DATA         processing ! 
          ! ---> DECOMPRESSOR ---> DECODER ---> routines   ! 
          !                                                ! 
          +------------------------------------------------+ 
                            Receive MPM                      

                             Detailed View

                               Figure 4.

[Page 10]                                                         Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                  Functional Description

2.5.  Relation to Other Protocols

  The following diagram illustrates the place of the message protocol in
  the protocol hierarchy:

   +------+ +-----+ +-------+ +-----+     +-----+                   
   !Telnet! ! FTP ! !Message! !Voice! ... !     ! Application Level 
   +------+ +-----+ +-------+ +-----+     +-----+                   
           \   !   /             !           !                      
            +-----+           +-----+     +-----+                   
            ! TCP !           ! RTP ! ... !     ! Host Level        
            +-----+           +-----+     +-----+                   
               !                 !           !                      
              +-------------------------------+                     
              !       Internet Protocol       !   Gateway Level     
              +-------------------------------+                     
                              !                                     
                 +---------------------------+                      
                 !   Local Network Protocol  !    Network Level     
                 +---------------------------+                      
                              !                                     

                         Protocol Relationships

                               Figure 5.

  The message protocol interfaces on one side to user interface programs
  and on the other side to a reliable transport protocol such as TCP.

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Internet Message Protocol

[Page 12]                                                         Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol

                       3.  DETAILED SPECIFICATION

The presentation of the information in this section is difficult since
everything depends on everything, and since this is a linear media it
has to come in some order.  In this attempt, a very brief overview of
the message structure is given, then a radical switch is made to
defining the basic building blocks, and finally using the building
blocks to reach the overall structure again.

3.1.  Overview of Message Structure

  In general a message is composed of three parts:  the identification,
  the command, and the document.  Each part is in turn composed of
  message objects.

  The identification part is composed of a transaction number assigned
  by the originating MPM, and the internet host number of that MPM.

  The command part is composed of  an operation type, an operation code,
  an argument list, an error list, the destination mailbox, and a stamp.
  The stamp is a list of the MPMs that have handled this message.

  The document part is composed of a header and a body.  The message
  delivery system does not depend on the contents of the document part,
  but this specification does make some recommendations for the document
  header.

  The following sections define the representation of a message as a
  structured object composed of other objects.  Objects in turn are
  represented using a set of basic data elements.

3.2.  Data Elements

  The data elements defined here are similar to the data structure and
  encoding used in NSW [18].

  Each of the diagrams which follow represent a sequence of octets.
  Field boundaries are denoted by the "!" character, octet boundaries by
  the "+" character. The diagrams are presented in left to right order.
  Each element begins with a one octet code.

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Internet Message Protocol
Specification

  Code  Type          Representation
  ----  ----          --------------

                      +------+
    0  No Operation   !  1   !
                      +------+

                      +------+------+------+------+------
    1  Padding        !  0   !     octet count    ! Data ...
                      +------+------+------+------+------

                      +------+------+
    2  Boolean        !  2   ! 1/0  !
                      +------+------+

                      +------+------+------+
    3  Index          !  3   !     Data    !
                      +------+------+------+

                      +------+------+------+------+------+
    4  Integer        !  4   !            Data           !
                      +------+------+------+------+------+

                      +------+------+------+------+------
    5  Bit String     !  5   !      bit count     ! Data ...
                      +------+------+------+------+------

                      +------+------+------+------+------
    6  Text String    !  6   !     octet count    !  Data ...
                      +------+------+------+------+------

                      +------+------+------+------+------+------+-----
    7  List           !  7   !     octet count    !  item count ! Data
                      +------+------+------+------+------+------+-----

                      +------+------+------+------+------
    8  Proplist       !  8   !     octet count    ! Data ...
                      +------+------+------+------+------

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                           Specification

  Element code 0 (NOP) is an empty data element used for padding when it
  is necessary. It is ignored.

  Element code 1 (PAD) is used to transmit large amounts of data with a
  message for test or padding purposes.  No action is taken with this
  data but the count of dummy octets must be correct to indicate the
  next element code.

  Element code 2 (BOOLEAN) is a boolean data element which has the value
  1 for True and 0 for False.

  Element code 3 (INDEX) is a 16-bit unsigned integer datum. Element
  code 3 occupies only 3 octets.

  Element code 4 (INTEGER) is a signed 32-bit integer datum. This will
  always occupy five octets.  Representation is two's complement.

  Element code 5 (BITSTR) is a bit string element for binary data.  The
  bit string is padded on the right with zeros to fill out the last
  octet if the bit string does not end on an octet boundary.  This data
  type must have the bit-count in the two octet count field instead of
  the number of octets.

  Element code 6 (TEXT) is used for the representation of text.  Seven
  bit ASCII characters are used, right justified in the octet.  The high
  order bit in the octet is zero.

  Element code 7 (LIST) can be used to create structures composed of
  other elements.  The item-count contains the number of elements which
  follow.  Any element may be used including List itself.  The octet
  count specifies the number of octets in the whole list.  A null or
  empty List, one with no elements, has an item-count of zero (0).

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Specification

  Element code 8 (PROPLIST) is the Property-List element.  It has the
  following form:

    +------+------+------+------+------+
    !   8  !     octet          ! pair !
    !      !           count    ! count!
    +------+------+------+------+------+
                         +------+------+------+---------+---------+
                         ! name !    value    ! name    ! value   !
             repeated    ! count!    count    !      ...!      ...!
                         +------+------+------+---------+---------+

  The Property-List structure consists of a set of unordered name/value
  pairs.  The pairs are a one octet name count and a two octet value
  count followed by the name and value strings.  The counts specify the
  length in octets of the name and value strings.  Each string has a
  length in octets which agrees with its respective count.  The count of
  octets until the next pair in the property list is  1 + 2 + name count
  + value count octets.  The entire Property-List is of course equal in
  length to the octet count of the element itself.  Immediately
  following the octet count for the entire element is a one octet pair
  count field which contains the total number of name/value pairs in the
  Proplist.

3.3.  Message Objects

  In the composition of messages we use a set of objects such as
  address, or date.  These objects are encoded in the basic data
  elements.  The message objects are built of data elements.

  While data elements are typed, message objects are not.  This is
  because messages are structured to the extent that only one kind of
  message object may occur in any position of a message structure.

  The following is a list of some of the objects used in messages.  The
  object descriptions are grouped by the section of the message in which
  they normally occur.

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                           Specification

  Identification

    Internet Host Number (ihn)

      This identifies a host in the internetwork environment.  When used
      as a part of tid, it identifies the originating host of a message.
      The ihn is a 32 bit number, the higher order 8 bits identify the
      network, and the lower order 24 bits identify the host on that
      network.

      INTEGER

    Transaction Identifier (tid)

      This is the transaction identifier associated with a particular
      command.  It is a list of the transaction number and the internet
      host number of the originating host.

      LIST ( tn , ihn )

    Transaction Number (tn)

      This is a number which is uniquely associated with this
      transaction by  the originating host.  It identifies the
      transaction.  (A transaction is a message and acknowledgment, this
      is discussed in more detail in later sections.)  A tn must be
      unique for the time which the message (a request or reply)
      containing it could be active in the network.

      INDEX

  Command

    Address

      This is very similar to Mailbox in that it also is the "address"
      of a user.  However, Address is intended to contain the minimum
      information necessary for delivery, and no more.

      PROPLIST ( --- )

    Answer

      A yes (true) or no (false) answer to a question.

      BOOLEAN

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Specification

    Arguments

      This is the argument to many of the operations.  It consists of a
      List of different data types.  The List will have form and data
      relevant with the particular operation.

      LIST ( --- )

    Command-Type

      Gives the type of a command (e.g., request, reply, alarm).

      INDEX

    Error-List

      The error list contains information concerning an error which has
      occured.  It is a List comprised of the two objects error-class
      and error-string.

      LIST ( error class, error string )

    Error-Class

      A code for the class of the error.

      INDEX

    Error-String

      A text string explaining the error.

      TEXT

    How-Delivered

      A comment on the delivery of a messages, for instance a message
      could be delivered, forwarded, or turned over to general delivery.

      LIST ( TEXT )

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                           Specification

    Mailbox

      This is the "address" of a user of the internetwork mail system.
      Mailbox contains information such as net, host, location, and
      local user-id of the recipient of the message.  Some information
      contained in Mailbox may not be necessary for delivery.

      As an example, when one sends a message to someone for the first
      time, he may include many items which are not necessary simply to
      insure delivery.  However, once he gets a reply to this message,
      the reply could contain an Address (as opposed to Mailbox) which
      the user will use from then on.

        A mailbox is a PROPLIST.  A mailbox might contain the following
        name-value pairs:

          name    element  description
          ----    -------  -----------
          IA      INTEGER  internet address
          NET     TEXT     network name
          HOST    TEXT     host name
          USER    TEXT     user name
          CITY    TEXT     city
          COUNTRY TEXT     country
          STATE   TEXT     state
          ZIP     TEXT     zip code
          PHONE   TEXT     phone number

      PROPLIST ( --- )

    Operation

      This names the operation or procedure to be performed.

      TEXT

    Options

      REGULAR for normal delivery, FORWARD for message forwarding,
      GENDEL for general delivery, or other options which may be defined
      later.

      LIST ( TEXT, ... )

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    Reasons

      These could be mailbox does not exist, mailbox full, etc.

      LIST ( TEXT )

    Stamp

      Each MPM that handles the message must add a unique identifier
      (ihn, see above) to the list.  This will prevent messages from
      being sent back and forth through the internet mail system without
      eventually either being delivered or returned to the sender.

      LIST ( ihn, ihn, ... )

    Trail

      When a message is sent through the internetwork environment, it
      acquires a list of MPMs that have handled the message in "Stamp".
      This list is then carried as "Trail" upon reply or acknowledgment
      of that message. More simply, requests and replies always have a
      "Stamp" and each MPM adds its ihn to this "Stamp."  Replies, in
      addition, have a "Trail" which is the complete "Stamp" of the
      original message.

      LIST ( ihn, ihn, ... )

    Type

      The command type, e.g., request or reply.

      INDEX

  Document

    In this section, we define some objects useful in message document
    headers.  The ones we use are taken from the current ARPANET message
    syntax standard [6,8].

    CC

      When copies of a message are sent to others in addition to the
      addresses in the To object, those to whom the copies are sent will
      have their addresses recorded here.  CC will be a single TEXT
      element.

      TEXT

[Page 20]                                                         Postel

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    Date

      The date and time are represented according to the International
      Standards Organization (ISO) recommendations [13,14,15].  Taken
      together the ISO recommendations 2014, 3307, and 4031 result in
      the following representation of the date and time:

        yyyy-mm-dd-hh:mm:ss,fff+hh:mm

      Where yyyy is the 4 digit year, mm is the two digit month, dd is
      the two digit day, hh is the two digit hour in 24 hour time, mm is
      the two digit minute, ss is the two digit second, and fff is the
      decimal fraction of the second.  To this basic date and time is
      appended the offset from Greenwich as plus or minus hh hours and
      mm minutes.

      TEXT

    Document-Body

      The document body will contain that portion of the message
      commonly thought of as the text portion.  It will be composed of a
      list of elements.  This will allow transmission of data other than
      pure text if such capabilities are needed.  We can, for instance,
      envision digital voice communication through the transmission of
      BITSTR element, or transmission of graphic data, etc.  Information
      regarding control of such features could be included in the header
      for cooperating sites, or in the body itself but such protocols
      would depend upon agreement among those sites involved.  It is
      expected of course that the majority of messages will contain body
      portions comprised of TEXT elements.

      LIST ( --- )

    Document-Header

      The document header contains the memo header presented to the
      user.  In principle this may be of any style or structure.  In
      this specification it is recommended that a PROPLIST be used and
      that the name-value pairs correspond to the header fields of
      RFC 733 [6].

      PROPLIST ( --- )

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    From

      The From is meant to be the name of the author of a document.  It
      will be one TEXT element.

      TEXT

    Reply-To

      Sometimes it will be desired to direct the replies of a message to
      some address other than the From or the Sender.  In such a case
      the Reply-To object can be used.

      TEXT

    Sender

      The Sender will contain the address of the individual who sent the
      message. In some cases this is NOT the same as the author of the
      message. Under such a condition, the author should be specified in
      the From object.  The Sender is a single TEXT element.

      TEXT

    Subject

      The subject of the message.

      TEXT

    To

      To identifies the addressees of the message.  The To object is one
      TEXT element.

      TEXT

[Page 22]                                                         Postel

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3.4.  Command

  This section describes the commands which processes in the internet
  message system can use to communicate.  Several aspects of the command
  structure are based on the NSW Transaction Protocol [19].  The
  commands come in pairs, with each request having a corresponding
  reply.

   A command is a list:

    LIST ( mailbox, stamp, type, operation, arguments, error-list )

  The arguments are described generally here and more specifically, if
  necessary, in the description of each command.

    mailbox:  PROPLIST

      This is the "to" specification of the message.  Mailbox takes the
      form of a property list of general information, some of which is
      the essential information for delivery, and some of which could be
      extra information which may be helpful for delivery.  Mailbox is
      different from address in that address is a very specific list
      without extra information.

    stamp:  LIST ( INTEGER, ...  )

      This is a list of the MPMs that have handled the message.  Each
      MPM must add its 32 bit Internet Host Number (ihn) to the LIST.

    type: INDEX

      type=1 a REQUEST operation.

      type=2 a REPLY operation.

      type=3 an ALARM operation. (A high priority message.)

      type=4 a RESPONSE to an alarm operation.

    operation: TEXT

      Operation is the name of the operation or procedure to be
      performed.  This string must be interpreted in an upper/lower case
      independent manner.

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    arguments: LIST

      This is a list of arguments to the above operation.

    error-list:  LIST

      If message is type 1 or 3 (a request or an alarm):

        LIST ( )  (a zero length list)

      If message is a type 2 or 4 (a response or response to alarm)

        LIST ( error-class, error-string ) indicates what,if any, error
        occured

      error-class: INDEX

        =0: indicates success, no error
        =1: partial results returned.
          This error class is used when several steps are performed by
          one operation and some of them fail.
        =2: failure, resources unavailable.
        =3: failure, user error.
        =4: failure, MPM error. Recoverable.
        =5: failure, MPM error. Fatal.
        =6: User abort requested

      error-string: TEXT

        This is a human readable character string describing the error.

    Possible errors:

              error-string                  error-class

      No errors                                  0
      Command not implemented                    2
      Syntax error, command unrecognized         3
      Syntax error, in arguments                 3
      Server error, try again later              4
      No service available                       5
      User requested abort                       6

[Page 24]                                                         Postel

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  command:  DELIVER

    type:  1

    function:  Sends message to a mailbox

    reply:  The reply is ACKNOWLEDGE

    arguments:  LIST ( options )

      options:  one or more of the following

        "REGULAR"  regular delivery

        "FORWARD"  message forwarding

        "GENDEL"   general delivery

        other options which may be defined later

    argument structure:

      LIST ( LIST ( TEXT, ... ))

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  command:  ACKNOWLEDGE

    type:  2

    function:  reply to DELIVER

    arguments: LIST ( tid, trail, answer, reasons, how-delivered )

      tid:  tid of the originating message

      trail:   the stamp from the deliver command

      answer:  yes if delivered successfully,
               no if error in delivery.

      reasons:  if the answer is yes, the reason is "ok", if the answer
      is no the reason could be one of "no such user", "no such host",
      "no such network", "address ambiguous", or a similar response

      how-delivered:  one or more of the following:

        "FORWARD"  message was accepted for forwarding

        "GENDEL"   message was accepted for general delivery

        "ACCEPT"   message was accepted for normal delivery

        other types of delivery may be defined later

    argument structure:

      LIST ( LIST ( INDEX, INTEGER ),
             LIST ( INTEGER, ...  ),
             BOOLEAN,
             LIST ( TEXT ),
             LIST ( TEXT ))

[Page 26]                                                         Postel

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  command:  PROBE

    type:  1

    function:  finds out if specified mailbox (specified in mailbox of
    the command) exists at a host

    reply:  the reply is RESPONSE

    arguments:  LIST ( --none-- )

    argument structure:

      LIST ( )

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  command:  RESPONSE

    type:  2

    function:  reply to PROBE

    arguments:  LIST ( tid, trail, answer, address OR reasons )

      tid:  the tid which came from the originating PROBE

      trail:  the stamp which came from the originating PROBE

      answer:  Yes if mailbox found, or no for invalid mailbox

      if answer is yes the fourth argument is address
      if answer is no it is reasons

      address:  a specific address in the network

      reasons:  a reason why mailbox is invalid

        Possible reasons include:

          "Mailbox doesn't exist"

          "Mailbox full"

          "Mailbox has moved, try this new location", address

            address is a new address to try

    argument structure:

      if answer is yes

        LIST ( LIST ( INDEX, INTEGER ),
               LIST ( INTEGER, ... ),
               BOOLEAN,
               PROPLIST )

      if answer is no

        LIST ( LIST ( INDEX, INTEGER ),
               LIST ( INTEGER, ... ),
               BOOLEAN,
               LIST ( TEXT ))

[Page 28]                                                         Postel

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    command:  CANCEL

      type:  3

      function:  abort request for specified transaction

      reply:  The reply is CANCELED

      arguments:  LIST ( tid )

        tid of transaction to be cancelled

      argument structure:

        LIST ( LIST ( INDEX, INTEGER ))

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    command:  CANCELED

      type:  4

      function:  reply to CANCEL

      arguments:  LIST ( tid, trail, answer )

        tid:  tid of transaction to be cancelled

        trail:  the stamp of the CANCEL command

        answer:  yes if the command was canceled, no if not.

      argument structure:

        LIST ( LIST ( INDEX, INTEGER ),
               LIST ( INTEGER, ... ),
               BOOLEAN )

[Page 30]                                                         Postel

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  To summarize again, a command consists of a LIST of the following
  objects:

    name        element
    ----        -------
    mailbox     PROPLIST
    stamp       LIST ( INTEGER, ... )
    type        INDEX
    operation   TEXT
    arguments   LIST ( --- )
    error       LIST ( INDEX, TEXT )

3.5.  Document

  The actual document follows the command list.  It contains a header
  which usually contains such information as From, To, Date, CC, etc.;
  and the actual body of the message.  The message delivery system does
  not depend on the document.  The following section should be taken as
  a recommendation for common practice, not as a requirement.

  Document Header

    For the same reason that it is impossible to for see the many forms
    that intranet addresses will take, standardizing of document headers
    would also be a mistake. The approach we suggest is to lay the
    groundwork for a set of basic document header functions and provide
    for enough extensibility to allow nets to add whatever header
    features they desire.  Features added in this fashion, however, may
    not be understood by other networks.  It is suggested that subset
    defined here be implemented by all networks.

    This subset is taken from the current ARPANET standard for message
    headers in the text oriented computer message system [6,8].

    The document header will precede the document body portion of the
    message and will consist of a proplist data element.  The document
    header is meant to be used by individual networks to tailor the
    header to suit their individual needs.  As an example, consider the
    ARPA network.  Typically, the receiver's name is taken to be his
    network address.  It often prints in the document header in just
    that form: Frank@SITEX.  Such a salutation is unacceptable in some
    more formal modes of communication.  Some network might choose to
    place into header proplist the name-value pair ("SALUTATION:", "Mr.
    Frank Hacker").  Upon receipt of the message, the document handling
    program would then be able to scan the header proplist looking for
    such a pair and so be able to correctly address the recipient by
    name instead of by network address.  However, other networks or

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    sites within the network may not understand such specific
    information.  Under such a condition it should be ignored.

    The minimum header is a PROPLIST of the following name-value pairs:

      Name     Value
      ----     -----
      DATE     TEXT
      FROM     TEXT

    A normal header is a PROPLIST containing the following name-value
    pairs:

      Name     Value
      ----     -----
      DATE     TEXT
      SENDER   TEXT
      FROM     TEXT
      TO       TEXT
      CC       TEXT
      SUBJECT  TEXT

  Document Body

    The Body of the message is just a sequence of data elements which
    contains the actual document.  Much of the time this will be a
    single TEXT element, but for some applications other data elements
    may be utilized.

    LIST ( --- )

[Page 32]                                                         Postel

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3.6.  Message Structure

  An internet message is composed of three parts.  The first is the tid
  which identifies the transaction; the second is the Command List; and
  the third part is the Document List, which is itself comprised of a
  Document-Header and a Document-Body.

  When shipped between two MPMs, a message will take the form of a LIST:

    Message is:

      LIST ( tid, Command-List, Document-List )

    It is convenient to batch several messages together shipping them as
    a unit from one MPM to another.  Such a group of messages is called
    a message-bag.

    A message-bag will be a LIST of Messages, each Message is of the
    form described above.

      Thus, a message-bag is:

        LIST ( Message1, Message2, ... )

  Message Sharing

    When messages are batched for delivery, it may often be the case
    that the same Document will be sent to more than one recipient.
    Since the Document portion can usually be expected to be the major
    parts of the message, much repeated data would be sent if a copy of
    the Mail for each recipient were to be shipped in the message-bag.

    To avoid this redundancy, messages are assembled in the message-bag
    so that actual data appears first and references to it appear later
    in the message-bag.  Since each message has a unique tid, the
    references will indicate the tid of the actual data.  In this sense,
    all references to copied data may be thought of as pointing earlier
    in the message-bag.  The data to be retrieved can be thought of as
    indexed by tid.  Note that the semantics require such references to
    point to data already seen.

    When a portion is Shared, that portion is determined by its position
    within a message, i.e., if the Command list was to be Shared, then
    its position within a Message would contain the tid of the message
    already seen whose Command list was identical to it.  The same is
    true of the Document Header and the Document Body.  Only a complete
    Command, Header, or Body may be Shared, never a partial one.

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    If an encryption scheme is used, that portion of the message which
    is encrypted can not be shared.  This is due to the fact that
    encrypting keys will be specific between two individuals.

  Internal Message Organization

    The tid

      This is the transaction identifier.  It is assigned by the
      originating MPM.

    The Command List

      The command-list is a LIST which contains two elements, content
      and command.

      Content is one item of element type INDEX.  If content=0, the item
      is not shared and the next element of the LIST is the command.  If
      content=1 the item is shared.  In this case, the second element
      will contain the tid of the command to share from.  The tid must
      be of a prior message in the current message-bag.  Other values of
      content may be defined later for different data structures.

      Thus, command-list is:

        LIST ( content, tid )       if content=1

      Or,

        LIST ( content, command )    if content=0

      content is:

        INDEX     which is 0 if there is no sharing
                    and is 1 if sharing occurs

      tid is:

        the tid of the message to be shared from

      command is:

        LIST ( mailbox, stamp, type, operation, arguments, error-list )

    The document-list

      The document portion of an internet message is optional and when
      present is comprised of a LIST containing two elements:

[Page 34]                                                         Postel

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        document-list is:

          LIST ( header-list, body-list )

      While either the header-list or the body-list may be shared, both
      elements must appear in the m.

    The document-header

      The header-list will be a List which will always contain two
      elements.  The first element will be content to indicate whether
      or not the header is to be shared.  The second element will either
      be the tid of the header to be copied (if content=1) or it will be
      the document-header (which is a PROPLIST) containing the actual
      header information (if content=0). The tid must point to a
      document-header already seen in the message-bag.

      The header-list is either:

        LIST ( content, tid )                if content=1

      Or,

        LIST ( content, document-header )     if content=0

      document-header is:

        PROPLIST which contains header information

    The document-body

      The body-list will be a LIST of two elements.  The first element
      will again be content, indicating whether or not the body is to be
      shared.  If it is shared, the second element will be tid
      indicating which body to copy.  This tid must be of a message
      already seen in the message-bag.  If content indicates no sharing,
      then the second item is a document-body.

      body-list is:

        LIST ( content, tid )           if content=1

      Or,

        LIST ( content, document-body )  if content=0

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      document-body is:

        LIST ( items comprising the body ... )

  Message Fields

    message := ( tid, command-list, document-list )

    tid := ( tn, ihn )

    command-list := ( content, command )

    command := ( mailbox, stamp, type, operation,
                 arguments, error-list )

    document-list := ( header-list, body-list )

    header-list := ( content, document-header )

    body-list := ( content, document-body )

3.7.  MPM Organization

  Introduction

    The heart of the internet message system is the MPM which is
    responsible for routing and delivering message between the networks.
    Each network must have at least one MPM.  These MPMs are connected
    together, and internet mail is always transferred along channels
    between them.  The system interfaces with the already existent local
    message system.

    Since the local network message system may be very different from
    the internet system, special programs may be necessary to convert
    incoming internet messages to the local format.  Likewise, messages
    outgoing to other networks may be converted to the internet format.

  The MPM

    Messages in the internet mail system are shipped in "bags," each bag
    containing one or more messages.  Each bag is addressed to a
    specific MPM and contains messages for the hosts on that MPM's
    network.

    Each MPM is expected to implement functions which will allow it to
    deliver local messages it receives and to forward non-local ones to
    other MPMs presumably closer to the message's destination.

[Page 36]                                                         Postel

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    Loosely, each MPM can be separated into five components:

      1--Acceptor

        Receives incoming Message-Bags, from other MPMs, from UIPs, or
        from conversion programs.

      2--Message-Bag Processor

        Splits a Bag into these three portions:

          a.    Local Host Messages
          b.    Local Net Messages
          c.    Foreign Net Messages

      3--Local Net Delivery

        Delivers local net and local host messages, may call on
        conversion program.

      4--Foreign Net Router

        Creation of new Message-Bags for forwarding to other MPMs,
        determines route.

      5--Foreign Net Shipper

        Activates foreign shipping channels and ships Message-Bag to
        foreign MPMs. Performs data compression while shipping bags.

    All of these components can be thought of as independent.  Of the
    five, the Acceptor, the Local-Net Delivery, and the Message-Bag
    Processor are fully self-contained and communicate with each other
    only through a queue, the Bag-Input Queue.  The function of the
    Acceptor is to await incoming Message-Bags and to insert them into
    the Bag-Input Queue.

    That queue is the input to the Message-Bag Processor component which
    will separate and deliver suitable portions of the Message-Bags it
    retrieves from the queue to one of three queues:

      a.    Local-Host Queue
      b.    Local-Net Queue
      c.    Foreign Net Queue

    When a MPM decides to forward a message to another MPM, it must add
    its own identification (i.e., its ihn) to the stamp field of the
    command.  The stamp then becomes a record of the route the message

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    has taken.  An MPM should examine the stamp field to see if the
    message is in a routing loop.  Some commands require the return of
    the stamp as a trail in the matching reply command.

    All of these queues have as elements complete Message-Bags (some of
    which may have been portions of the original Bag).

    The Local-Host and Local-Net queues serve as input to the Local-Net
    Delivery process.  This component is responsible for delivering
    messages to its local host and other hosts on its local net to which
    it is connected.  It must be capable of handling whatever error
    conditions the local net might return, including the ability to
    retransmit.  It may call on conversion program to reformat the
    messages into a form the local protocol will accept.  This will
    probably involve such things as copying shared information.

    The other two processes are more closely coupled.  The Foreign Net
    Router takes its input Bags from the Foreign Net Queue.  From the
    internal information it contains, it determines which one of the
    MPMs to which it is connected should receive the Bag.

    It then places the Bag along with the routing information into the
    Shippable Mail Queue.  The Foreign Net Shipper retrieves it from
    that queue and transmits it across a channel to the intended foreign
    MPM.

    The Foreign Net Router should be capable of receiving external input
    to its routing information table.  This may come from the Foreign
    Net Shipper in the case of a channel going down, requiring a
    decision to either postpone delivery or to determine a new route.

    The Router is responsible for maintaining sufficient topological
    information to determine where to forward any incoming Message-Bag.
    Decisions concerning the return of undeliverable Bags are made by
    the Router.

    It should be stressed here that message delivery should be reliable.
    In the event that delivery is impossible, the message should be
    returned to the sender along with information regarding the reason
    for not delivering it.

  Implementation Recommendations

    Transaction numbers can be assigned sequentially with wrap around
    when the highest value is reached.  This should ensure that no
    message with a particular transaction number from this source is in
    the network when another instance of this transaction number is
    chosen.

[Page 38]                                                         Postel

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3.8.  Interfaces

  User Interface

    It is assumed that the interface between the MPM and the UIP
    provides for passing data structures which represent the document
    portion of the message.  In addition this interface must pass the
    delivery address information (which becomes the information in the
    mailbox field of the command).  It is weakly assumed that the
    information is passed between the UIP and the MPM via shared files,
    but this is not the only possible mechanism.  These two processes
    may be more strongly coupled (e.g., by sharing memory), or less
    strongly coupled (e.g., by communicating via logical channels).

  Communication Interface

    It is assumed here that the MPM use an underlying communication
    system, and TCP [20] has been taken as the model.  Again, this is
    not intended to limit the implementation choices, other forms of
    interprocess communication are allowed and other types of physical
    interconnection are permitted.  One might even use dial telephone
    calls to interconnect MPMs (using suitable protocols to provide
    reliable communication).

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[Page 40]                                                         Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol

                        4.  EXAMPLES & SCENARIOS

Example 1:  Message Format

  Suppose we want to send the following message:

    Date: 1979-03-29-11:46-08:00
    From: Jon Postel <Postel@ISIB>
    Subject: Meeting Thursday
    To: Dave Crocker <DCrocker@Rand-Unix>
    CC: Mamie

    Dave:

    Please mark your calendar for our meeting Thursday at 3 pm.

    --jon.

  It will be encoded in the structured format.  The following will
  present successive steps in the top down generation of this message.

    1.  message

    2.  ( tid, command-list, document-list )

    3.  ( ( tn, ihn ),
        ( content, command ),
        ( header-list, body-list ) )

    4.  ( ( tn, ihn ),
          ( content,
            ( mailbox, stamp, type, operation,
              arguments, error-list ) ),
          ( ( content, document-header ),
            ( content, document-body ) ) )

    5.  ( ( 37, 167772404 ),
        ( 0, (
               ( IA: 167772359, NET: arpa, HOST: rand-unix,
                 USER: DCrocker ),
               ( 167772404 ),
               1
               DELIVER
               ( ( REGULAR ) ),
               ( ) ) ),
        ( ( 0, (
                 Date: 1979-03-29-11:46-08:00
                 From: Jon Postel <Postel@ISIB>
                 Subject: Meeting Thursday

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Examples & Scenarios

                 To: Dave Crocker <DCrocker@Rand-Unix>
                 CC: Mamie ) ),
          ( 0, ( Dave:

                 Please mark your calendar for our meeting
                 Thursday at 3 pm.

                 --jon. ) ) ) )

    6.  LIST( LIST( INDEX=37, INTEGER=167772404 ),
              LIST( INDEX=0,
    command         LIST( PROPLIST( IA: 167772359,
                                    NET: arpa,
    mailbox                         HOST: rand-unix,
                                    USER: DCrocker ),
    stamp                 LIST( INTEGER=167772404 ),
    type                  INDEX=1
    operation             TEXT="DELIVER"
    arguments             LIST( LIST( TEXT="REGULAR" )),
    error-list            LIST( ) ) ),
              LIST( LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-header       PROPLIST(
                            DATE: 1979-03-29-11:46-08:00
                            FROM: Jon Postel <Postel@ISIB>
                            SUBJECT: Meeting Thursday
                            TO: Dave Crocker <DCrocker@Rand-Unix>
                            CC: Mamie ) ),
                    LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-body         LIST( TEXT=
                            "Dave:

                            Please mark your calendar for
                            our meeting Thursday at 3 pm.

                            --jon." ) ) ) )

[Page 42]                                                         Postel

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                    Examples & Scenarios

Example 2:  Delivery and Acknowledgment

  The following is four views of the message of example 1 during the
  successive transmission from the origination MPM, through a relay MPM,
  to the destination MPM, and the return of the acknowledgment, through
  a relay MPM, to the originating MPM.

  +-----------------------------------------------------------------+ 
  !                          1         2                            ! 
  ! sending --> originating --> relay --> destination --> receiving ! 
  !   user          MPM          MPM          MPM            user   ! 
  !                                                                 ! 
  !                          4         3                            ! 
  !             originating <-- relay <-- destination               ! 
  !                 MPM          MPM          MPM                   ! 
  +-----------------------------------------------------------------+ 

                           Transmission Path

                               Figure 6.

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Internet Message Protocol
Examples & Scenarios

  1.  Between the originating MPM and the relay MPM.

        LIST( LIST( INDEX=37, INTEGER=167772404 ),
              LIST( INDEX=0,
    command         LIST( PROPLIST( IA: 167772359,
                                    NET: arpa,
    mailbox                         HOST: rand-unix,
                                    USER: DCrocker ),
    stamp                 LIST( INTEGER=167772404 ),
    type                  INDEX=1
    operation             TEXT="DELIVER"
    arguments             LIST( LIST( TEXT="REGULAR" )),
    error-list            LIST( ) ) ),
              LIST( LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-header       PROPLIST(
                            DATE: 1979-03-29-11:46-08:00
                            FROM: Jon Postel <Postel@ISIB>
                            SUBJECT: Meeting Thursday
                            TO: Dave Crocker <DCrocker@Rand-Unix>
                            CC: Mamie ) ),
                    LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-body         LIST( TEXT=
                            "Dave:

                            Please mark your calendar for
                            our meeting Thursday at 3 pm.

                            --jon." ) ) ) )

      The originating MPM sends the message of example 1 to a relay MPM.

[Page 44]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                    Examples & Scenarios

  2.  Between the relay MPM and the destination MPM.

        LIST( LIST( INDEX=37, INTEGER=167772404 ),
              LIST( INDEX=0,
    command         LIST( PROPLIST( IA: 167772359,
                                    NET: arpa,
    mailbox                         HOST: rand-unix,
                                    USER: DCrocker ),
    stamp                 LIST( INTEGER=167772404,
                                INTEGER=167772246 ),
    type                  INDEX=1
    operation             TEXT="DELIVER"
    arguments             LIST( LIST( TEXT="REGULAR" )),
    error-list            LIST( ) ) ),
              LIST( LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-header       PROPLIST(
                            DATE: 1979-03-29-11:46-08:00
                            FROM: Jon Postel <Postel@ISIB>
                            SUBJECT: Meeting Thursday
                            TO: Dave Crocker <DCrocker@Rand-Unix>
                            CC: Mamie ) ),
                    LIST( INDEX=0,
    document-body         LIST( TEXT=
                            "Dave:

                            Please mark your calendar for
                            our meeting Thursday at 3 pm.

                            --jon." ) ) ) )

      The relay MPM adds its ihn to the stamp, but otherwise the message
      is unchanged.

Postel                                                         [Page 45]

                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol
Examples & Scenarios

  3.  Between the destination MPM and the relay MPM.

        LIST( LIST( INDEX=1993, INTEGER=167772359 ),
              LIST( INDEX=0,
    command         LIST( PROPLIST( IA: 167772404,
    mailbox                         USER: *MPM* ),
    stamp                 LIST( INTEGER=167772359 ),
    type                  INDEX=2
    operation             TEXT="ACKNOWLEDGE"
    arguments             LIST( LIST( INDEX=37,
     tid                              INTEGER=167772404 ),
                                LIST( INTEGER=167772404,
     trail                            INTEGER=167772246,
                                      INTEGER=167772359 ),
     answer                     BOOLEAN=TRUE,
     reason                     LIST( TEXT="OK" ),
     how-delivered              LIST( TEXT="ACCEPT" ) ),
    error-list            LIST( INDEX=0,
                                TEXT="No Errors") ),
    document  LIST( ) )

      The destination MPM delivers the message to the user's UIP, and
      composes an acknowledgment.  The acknowledgment is addressed to
      the originating MPM.  Note that the trail is the stamp of the
      incoming message plus the ihn of the destination MPM.

[Page 46]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                    Examples & Scenarios

  4.  Between the relay MPM and the originating MPM.

        LIST( LIST( INDEX=1993, INTEGER=167772359 ),
              LIST( INDEX=0,
    command         LIST( PROPLIST( IA: 167772404,
    mailbox                         USER: *MPM* ),
    stamp                 LIST( INTEGER=167772359
                                INTEGER=167772246),
    type                  INDEX=2
    operation             TEXT="ACKNOWLEDGE"
    arguments             LIST( LIST( INDEX=37,
     tid                              INTEGER=167772404 ),
                                LIST( INTEGER=167772404,
     trail                            INTEGER=167772246,
                                      INTEGER=167772359 ),
     answer                     BOOLEAN=TRUE,
     reason                     LIST( TEXT="OK" ),
     how-delivered              LIST( TEXT="ACCEPT" ) ),
    error-list            LIST( INDEX=0,
                                TEXT="No Errors") ),
    document  LIST( ) )

      The relay MPM adds its ihn to the stamp and forwards the
      acknowledgment.

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                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol

[Page 48]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
                                               Internet Message Protocol

                                GLOSSARY

1822
          BBN Report 1822, "The Specification of the Interconnection of
          a Host and an IMP".  The specification of interface between a
          host and the ARPANET.

Command List
          The part of a message used by the MPMs to determine the
          processing action to be taken.

datagram
          A logical unit of data, in particular an internet datagram is
          the unit of data transfered between the internet module and a
          higher level module.

Destination
          The destination address, an internet header datagram protocol
          field.

Document List
          The part of the message created by or delivered to a user.

header
          Control information at the beginning of a message, segment,
          datagram, packet or block of data.

IMP
          The Interface Message Processor, the packet switch of the
          ARPANET.

Internet Address
          A four octet (32 bit) source or destination address consisting
          of a Network field and a Local Address field.

internet datagram
          The unit of data exchanged between a pair of internet modules
          (includes the internet header).

Local Address
          The address of a host within a network.  The actual mapping of
          an internet local address on to the host addresses in a
          network is quite general, allowing for many to one mappings.

Postel                                                         [Page 49]

                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol
Glossary

message
          The unit of information transmitted between users of message
          systems.  As transmitted between MPMs a message consists of a
          Transaction Identifier, a Command List, and a Document List.

module
          An implementation, usually in software, of a protocol or other
          procedure.

MPM
          A Message Processing Module, the process which implements this
          internet message protocol.

octet
          An eight bit byte.

Rest
          The 3 octet (24 bit) local address portion of an Internet
          Address.

RTP
          Real Time Protocol:  A host-to-host protocol for communication
          of time critical information.

Source
          The source address, an internet header field.

TCP
          Transmission Control Protocol:  A host-to-host protocol for
          reliable communication in internetwork environments.

Transaction Identifier
          The unique identifier of a message.

Type of Service
          An internet datagram protocol header field which indicates the
          type (or quality) of service for this internet packet.

UIP
          A User Interface Program, a program which presents message
          data to a user and accepts message data from a user.  A
          program which interacts with the user in the composition and
          examination of messages.

XNET
          A cross-net debugging protocol.

[Page 50]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
                                               Internet Message Protocol

                               REFERENCES

[1]   Barber, D., and J. Laws, "A Basic Mail Scheme for EIN," INWG 192,
      February 1979.

[2]   Bhushan, A., K. Progran, R. Tomlinson, and J. White,
      "Standardizing Network Mail Headers," RFC 561, NIC 18516, 5
      September 1973.

[3]   Bolt Beranek and Newman, "Specification for the Interconnection of
      a Host and an IMP," BBN Technical Report 1822, May 1978 (Revised).

[4]   Braaten, O., "Introduction to a Mail Protocol," Norwegian
      Computing Center, INWG 180, August 1978.

[5]   Cerf, V., "The Catenet Model for Internetworking," Information
      Processing Techniques Office, Defense Advanced Research Projects
      Agency, IEN 48, July 1978.

[6]   Crocker, D., J. Vittal, K. Progran, and D. Henderson, "Standard
      for the Format of ARPA Network Text Messages," RFC 733, NIC 41952,
      21 November 1977.

[7]   Crocker, D., E. Szurkowski, and D. Farber, "Components of a
      Channel-independent Memo Transmission System," Department of
      Electrical Engineering, University of Delaware,, February 1979.

[8]   Feinler, E. and J. Postel, eds., "ARPANET Protocol Handbook,"
      NIC 7104, for the Defense Communications Agency by the Network
      Information Center of SRI International, Menlo Park, California,
      Revised January 1978.

[9]   Harrenstien, K., "Field Addressing," ARPANET Message, SRI
      International, October 1977.

[10]  Haverty, J., "MSDTP -- Message Services Data Transmission
      Protocol," RFC 713, NIC 34739, April 1976.

[11]  Haverty, J., "Thoughts on Interactions in Distributed Services,"
      RFC 722, NIC 36806, 16 September 1976.

[12]  Haverty, J., D. Henderson, and D. Oestreicher, "Proposed
      Specification of an Inter-site Message Protocol," 8 July 1975.

[13]  ISO-2014, "Writing of calendar dates in all-numeric form,"
      Recommendation 2014, International Organization for
      Standardization, 1975.

Postel                                                         [Page 51]

                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol
References

[14]  ISO-3307, "Information Interchange -- Representations of time of
      the day," Recommendation 3307, International Organization for
      Standardization, 1975.

[15]  ISO-4031, "Information Interchange -- Representation of local time
      differentials," Recommendation 4031, International Organization
      for Standardization, 1978.

[16]  Myer, T., and D. Henderson, "Message Transmission Protocol,"
      RFC 680, NIC 32116, 30 April 1975.

[17]  Postel, J.  "Internetwork Datagram Protocol, Version 4," USC
      Information Sciences Institute, IEN 80, February 1979.

[18]  Postel, J.  "NSW Data Representation (NSWB8)," IEN 39, May 1978.

[19]  Postel, J.  "NSW Transaction Protocol (NSWTP)," IEN 38, May 1978.

[20]  Postel, J.  "Transmission Control Protocol, TCP, Version 4," USC
      Information Sciences Institute, IEN 81, February 1979.

[21]  Postel, J., "Assigned Numbers," RFC 750, NIC 45500,
      26 September 1978.

[22]  Postel, J., "Message System Transition Plan," JBP 64,
      USC-Information Sciences Institute, February 1979.

[23]  Rivest, R. L.  "A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and
      Public-Key Cryptosystems"  Communications of the ACM, Vol. 21,
      Number 2, February 1978.

[24]  Shoch, J., "A Note On Inter-Network Naming, Addressing, and
      Routing," Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, IEN 19, January 1978.

[25]  Thomas, R., "Providing Mail Services for NSW Users," BBN NSW
      Working Note 24, Bolt Beranek and Newman, October 1978.

[26]  White, J., "A Proposed Mail Protocol," RFC 524, NIC 17140, 13 June
      1973.

[27]  White, J., "Description of a Multi-Host Journal," NIC 23144,
      30 May 1974.

[28]  White, J., "Journal Subscription Service," NIC 23143, 28 May 1974.

[Page 52]                                                         Postel

March 1979                                                              
                                               Internet Message Protocol

                               APPENDICES

A.  Encryption

  It would be straightforward to add the capability to have the document
  portion of messages either wholly or partially encrypted.  The
  approach is to define an additional basic data element to carry
  encrypted data.  The data within this element could be composed of
  other elements, but that could only be perceived after the data was
  decrypted.

                      +------+------+------+------+-------
    9  Encrypt        !  9   !     octet count    ! Data ...
                      +------+------+------+------+--------

  Element code 9 (ENCRYPT) is Encrypt.  The format is the one octet type
  code, the three octet type count, and count octets of data.  Use of
  this element indicates that the data it contains is encrypted. The
  encryption scheme is yet to be decided but will probably be the Public
  Key Encryption technique [23] due to the capacity for coded
  signatures.

  To process this, the user is asked for the appropriate key the first
  time an encryption block is seen for a particular message.  The
  encrypted data is then decrypted.  The data thus revealed will be in
  the form of complete data type fields.  Encryption cannot occur over a
  partial field.  The revealed data is then processed normally.

  Note that there is no reason why all fields of a document could not be
  encrypted including all document header information such as From,
  Date, etc.

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Appendices

B.  Data Compression

  When message-bags are shipped between MPMs the data should be
  compressed according to the following scheme:

    shipping-unit := compression-type message-bag

    compression-type := A one octet compression type indicator.

      compression-type value   description
      ----------------------   -----------
                 0             no compression used
                 1             basic compression

    basic compression

      This basic compression procedure is the same as that defined for
      use with the ARPANET FTP [8].  Three types of compression-units
      may be formed, sequence-units, replication-units, and
      filler-units.  The data is formed into a series of
      compression-units independent of the structure or object and
      element boundaries.

      sequence-unit

        A sequence-unit is a one octet flag and count followed by that
        many data octets.

          +-+-------+--------+--------+----
          !0!   n   !     n data octets ...
          +-+-------+--------+--------+----

        The flag and count octet has its high order bit zero and the
        remaining bits indicate the count (in the range 0 to 127) of
        following data octets.

      replication-unit

        A replication-unit is a one octet flag and count followed by one
        data octet, which is to be replicated count times.

          +--+------+--------+
          !10!   n  !   data !
          +--+------+--------+

        The flag and count octet has its high order two bits equal
        one-zero and the remaining six bits indicate the count (in the
        range 0 to 63) of number of time to replicate the data octet.

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                                               Internet Message Protocol
                                                              Appendices

      filler-unit

        A filler-unit is a one octet flag and count, indicating that a
        filler octet is to be inserted count times.

          +--+------+
          !11!   n  !
          +--+------+

        The flag and count octet has its high order two bits equal
        one-one and the remaining six bits indicate the count (in the
        range 0 to 63) of number of time to insert the filler octet.

        The filler octet is zero, the octet with all bits zero.

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                                                              March 1979
Internet Message Protocol

 

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