|Electronic mail is the
most commonly used service on the Internet. It allows the
user to send a message to another computer without
requiring that the receiving person be "at
home" or logged into the destination computer system
at the time the destination system actually receives the
email. Thus, email is more like "talking" to an
answering machine or a voice mail system than it is like
a telephone conversation. It is called email because it
is similar to the mail that the postal service delivers.
You put it into an envelope and address it, and the
network delivers your email. You may not necessarily know
when the email is read. However, if you address your
message incorrectly, you do get it back in your mailbox.
Your message is also returned if the network is unable to
deliver your email. (This is called bounced mail because
it bounces back to you.)
There are many different electronic mail systems that use the Internet as a delivery service. Some electronic mail enters or leaves the Internet from the commercial information providers like CompuServe and MCIMail. Most email enters or leaves the network from an email system on a connected network node. These email systems are supported by a local computing system administration and are chosen based on criteria important to the local service area or business. Any email system that allows internet addressing may traverse the Internet if the networks are configured correctly.
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