E-mail is short for electronic mail, mail you can send or receive directly on your computer. Yes, with e-mail people can actually write you letters and send them to your computer, and you can turn on your computer and go pick up your mail whenever it’s convenient. Many a love affair has begun through e-mail. I know. It’s really fun, too. And useful, of course. E-mail can be a verb too, as in “I e-mailed my lover a letter from Lhasa.”
Although basically a method of passing messages from one computer to another email is becoming increasingly popular, in part because those computers sending messages to each other could be in adjacent offices or on opposite sides of the world. In fact the ability to send a letter or memo halfway across the world at the speed of electricity instead of the more traditional postal services is one of the strengths of the Internet. Because of email even the remotest office can maintain practically instant communication with headquarters, or even another remote office.
E-mail may not be as personal as a handwritten note, but it’s the quickest and most convenient way yet to communicate written information. If something absolutely positively has to be there in ten minutes, e-mail can get it there on time. I write for magazines and corporations all over the country, but I never leave my room. If an article has to be in by Friday at noon, I can finish it Friday at 11:45 and e-mail the computer file to New York before the deadline.
E-mail is also great for taking care of business without having to go through all the social pleasantries we endure in phone conversations you can get straight to the point without having to ask how the kids are doing. “Attached is the file on the DeVere controversy. Tell me what you think.” Contrast e-mail with snailmail.
To send or receive e-mail, you must have a modem or your computer has to be on a network (connected to other computers). Your company or organization may have its own e-mail system with its own software-in which case you’ll run a version of that software on your machine. Lotus’ CC:Mail is probably still the most popular e-mail software around for PCs. Alternatively, e-mail services are available on many bulletin boards and online services) and there are specialized services such as MCI Mail whose primary mission is to distribute e-mail.
You can also send and receive files by direct telecommunications) where your modem calls the other party’s modem. But that entails the other person having to wait for your call and hanging around until they receive the entire file. They might not be able to use their computer for anything else in the meantime. With e-mail, you can send the mail anytime you want and they can pick it up anytime they want.