X.400 Standards Defined

During the first 30 years of email, different email systems had very different ways of representing content. For example, address formats, and the representation of rich text in the main message, varied. It was therefore difficult to connect different email systems.

The X.400 standards, initially published between 1984 and 1988, were an attempt to introduce consistency, and thus facilitate interconnectivity. Concurrently, internet-based email standards were also developed.

By about 1994, the internet-based approach, rather than the X.400/X.500 approach, became dominant. This was mainly due to the:

  • Spread of the internet
  • Simplicity of using internet rather than X.400 email addresses
  • Cheapness of internet mail. With X.400, service providers would charge for email transmission; with internet mail, once you had an internet connection in place, it was free.

--David Ferris

One comment

  1. Debbie
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

    The first version of X.400 was developed during the 1980-1984 study period, NOT 1984-1988. (I was a participant during 1980-1984.)

    • David Ferris
      Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

      Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for raising that. I’ve changed the text to read “published 1984/88” rather than developed during 1984/8. Please let me know if you’re not happy with this. Also, btw, please tell me more about your involvement in X.400 development.–David Ferris

  2. Carl-Uno
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    The CCITT Recommendations were published every 4 years.
    The initial set of X.400 Recommandations came in 1984.
    An improved and expanded version came in 1988.
    A futher improved version, which was mostly bug fixes, came in 1992.

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