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I've also never heard "EMISARI".  However, if done in 1971, I suspect it
was a "central server" implementation.  All the users would have been on
terminals (aka "dumb terminals") connected to the same computer.

By the 1971 timeframe, "mail" was present on a variety of computers.
For example, several of these are captured in the materials from the
ICCC '72 conference in Washington.  In some systems at least, you could
hold a "conference call" of sorts by simply mailing to the list of
others in the group.  We did this at MIT for such earth-shaking
utterances as "Anybody interested in lunch?".  There was also a
mechanism for "linking" two terminals together, so two people could
easily have a conversation.  All was on the same timeshared computer, or
perhaps a few same-manufacturer computers interconnected by phone lines.
 The notion of "server" came later with the ARPANET.

Even before 1971, people communicated using a computer.  I recall having
conversations with the system operator at an IBM installation in New
York, circa 1969, while I was logged in to that system over a phone line
from Cambridge.  That's for example how we users found out that the
system was going down for some reason.  Even before that, it was common
to send messages to the human operator even when submitting card decks
for batch runs - messages such as "Please mount tape xxxyyy for this job".

Professor Licklider did a lot early on in this area.  E.g., he
orchestrated the creation of Project MAC at MIT in the early 60s.  Among
other things, MAC stood for Man And Computer.  We did a lot of work on
"Messaging" in the early 70s, which you'd now recognize as email.

It would be interesting to see a comprehensive history of man/computer
communications.  Packet-switching did not enable such usage; its
motivation was to improve efficiency of use of expensive telephone
lines.   After packet-switching appeared, the economics then enabled
large-scale usage.


On 10/01/2017 11:19 AM, Joly MacFie wrote:
> ?Listening to PBS yesterday, there was an interveiew about the history
> of FEMA, and they mentioned EMISARI as being the Ur of chat software. I
> had heard of PLATO and EIES, but never EMISARI.
> I googled and found 1) a related story in Wired
> -?https://www.wired.com/story/the-secret-history-of-fema/ and 2) this
> book excerpt?http://bit.ly/2fIe8Qw
> Questions: Packet-based? Relied on a central server? Any further insights?
> ?It would seem Murray Turoff deserves wider recognition.
> ?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Turoff
> -- 
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