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[ih] Obscure e-mail systems

On Wed, Mar 16, 2016 at 08:37:15PM -0400,
"John R. Levine" <johnl at iecc.com> wrote:
> >> Ooh, let's play mine's older and cruftier than yours!
> >
> > you may not want to do that.
> I didn't say I would win.

I think the airline industry must win that one, with their
communications protocols that were already old and crufty when
the Internet was new.

I think it was less than 5 years ago that I was in a conference call
when someone at the other end asked me if we would prefer EBCDIC or
ASCII for the link we were setting up with them.  I'm sure if I'd
said EBCDIC they would've provided it.

So on the topic of "obscure email systems", they've still got what
they refer to as "teletype messages" which can be addressed to go
directly (well, via store-and-forward through multiple hops) to
printers intended for humans to read.  Messages in the teletype
format have a 64 character maximum line length, and are limited
to the teletype character set (which is all-caps, of course), and
actually use some of the low ASCII codes for their name-appropriate
purposes; for example ^B STX marks the start of the message body
(start of text!) and ^C ETX marks the end of the message body.

Mostly, tty messages in the airline industry these days are from one
reservations system to another, generated and parsed by computers, but
some are still hand-entered by humans, and some are still addressed to
endpoints such as printers or mailboxes intended to be read by humans.
It is a sort of email that pre-dates email (and was never called email).

Addresses are 7 character alphanumeric (all caps!) strings, where the
last two characters indicate the recipient system, and the first 5 are
basically the "local part" but follow a standard convention of 3 char
location + 2 char category/type.  For example CLTRMAA would be
American Airlines, Reservations Message, Charlotte NC (location is
generally an airport code, or one of a few standard conventions like
"HDQ" for "headquarters").

If you lose a checked bag after a flight and they trace it, chances
are good that the baggage department's notification that the bag was
found was sent to them as a teletype message by the baggage department
that found it at some other airport.  Human-entered, human-read.

At least there were (probably!) no actual teletypes involved :)
But there may have been some ASCII->EBCDIC->ASCII on the way...
  -- Cos