When you send email it goes to a server which has some software on it which decides how to send it on. There is a bit of software on the other guy’s server which also decides what to do to it. These are caled Mail Transfer Agents. There are lots of MTAs out there, but the most common one is Sendmail. Originally written in 1981 by a guy called Eric Allman, it’s been the default MTA on many version of Unix for many, many years.

Eric Allman was an openly gay programmer. One of his quotes amused me no end today. Consider any hate email that travels the Internet. With so many systems running sendmail, chances are that the email will travel through a mail server running it.

There is some sort of perverse pleasure in knowing that it’s basically impossible to send a piece of hate mail through the Internet without its being touched by a gay program. That’s kind of funny.

-Eric Allman

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