Department of Engineering

History of Electronic Mail in CUED


The first external email access that the department had was via an X.25 connected machine which gave access to "Grey book" email on JANET. This used email addresses with the domain name components in the opposite order to the common Internet standard addresses now in use. At that time departmental email addresses were of the form USERID@UK.AC.CAMBRIDGE.ENGINEERING though the shorter USERID@UK.AC.CAM.ENG was also allowed.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Internet style email addresses were introduced, and for some time the Engineering mail system would accept either USERID@UK.AC.CAM.ENG or userid@eng.cam.ac.uk. With the coming of Internet connectivity to JANET the email connection moved from X.25 to IP.

Initially email was only used by the small number of people who were using computers for their work, but by 1989 email accounts were being issued to all engineering undergraduate students (hermes did not exist at this time). During the 1990s email usage spread to almost all members of the department.

The creation of and subsequent major improvements to the University wide Hermes mailstore have reduced the need for the department to provide its own mailstore, though it will continue to need to provide specialised department specific email facilities which cannot be provided centrally. A gradual move towards more use of Hermes has occured:

  • In 1997 incoming engineering undergraduates were no longer given email accounts on the departmental mail system.
  • Since 2001 incoming engineering postgraduate students have defaulted to having their email delivered to hermes.
  • From 2003 all new computer accounts (staff, visitors or students) are normally set up with mail delivered to hermes.
  • From 2005 all personal accounts have been moved to hermes, and only role accounts remain on the engineering system. Old mail has been copied to the hermes system.
  • From 2007 old mail in personal accounts still left on the departmental mailing system is being archived and deleted. This was completed in 2008.
  • Since 2009 most new role aliases are now also provided on hermes

Hermes provides users with better personal mailstore facilities as it offers:

  • Larger INBOX, folders and overall quota
  • Anti-spam scoring
  • More sophisticated mail filtering options
  • A Webmail interface, allowing easier access from remote sites.

In 2008 Personal Mail Aliases were introduced for permanent staff, although these still ultimately forward mail to hermes. In 2011 we introduced the IMAP archive service to provide long-term archiving where the hermes quota was not large enough. However as Hermes quotas have been increased again this is not needed for most people.