Being a former BBS operator and Fidonet node, I’m often simultaneously awed and bewildered at how Internet technology lags behind and skips right past many of the innovations that we used in Fido. It’s always 0 or light speed on the net. Take Mbox and Maildir formats for instance.


I came across this article today and it nudged me into thinking about the subject again.

Both of these can sort of be seen as similar to technologies used in BBSes and Fido. Mbox is kind of the larval form of the massive formats like JAMbase that store their data in a single format with several different index files alongside. Mbox just has everything lumped in one linear file. It’s astounding that something so much more primitive than the mail databases used on BBSes has become so ubiquitous on the net. Maildir on the other hand is a somewhat advanced version of what was considered one of the most primitive and wimpy formats used on Fidonet by the original Fido BBS. .MSG bases. It is also very common on the net and is used on all of the mail servers I administrate.

Both of these formats suck. Really. They’re so extraordinarily primitive that it’s not even funny. Give me a JAM or Squish base any day over either of them. They’re both at about the 0 or 1 stage of development.

Of course, true to internet style the next big advance in mail wasn’t a refined version of one of these bases. It was a full out sql supported database storing mail. This is kind of like going from a wood burning stove to a fission reactor with no intermediate steps…

Don’t even get me started about how moronic the design of Usenet, ftp, and www are…